A Proper Education for Girls Paperback – 2 Jul 2009
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"[An] assured, very funny debut; one of the best I've read this year" (Scotland on Sunday)
"A generous, rollicking read... it harks back to the loving pastiche of Angela Carter and, more recently, the camp Victoriana of Susanna Clarke and Michel Faber" (Scotland on Sunday)
"A novel to shock and delight" (Katherine McMahon)
"Beautifully written and an absolute joy to read... Elaine di Rollo's debut should be read and it should be rewarded too" (Scotsman)
"Entertaining... Fun and farcical" (Financial Times)
'Flashman for girls'. A rollicking story of twin sisters and their fight for freedom, set in 1857.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In 1857, two feisty sisters have been separated. Lilian has been married off to a missionary and sent to India, having disgraced herself at home. Alice has remained as her father's amanuensis and curator of his collection of scientific curiosities.
Out in India, Lilian thrives and 'goes native,' scandalising her fellow mem-sahibs. When she encounters the man who was the cause of her downfall back home ... well, I won't spoil it for you!
Meanwhile, their father is beginning to regret that his remaining daughter isn't more feminine and accommodating ... has Alice's education had a masculinising effect?
Elaine di Rollo has a doctorate in medical history and, with a light touch, weaves in a lot about Victorian sexual hypocrisy and the appalling treatment of women by the medical profession.
It's highly-amusing and, as other reviewers have pointed out, makes a jolly good holiday read. But it did take me a while to get into it, though ... I was half-way through before I really started enjoying it.
The novel alternates between Victorian England and Imperial India. Lilian and Alice Talbot are twins, outwardly different, but inwardly very alike. Their father is an avid collector of all things strange and unusual. As the ever growing collection is steadily invading the huge mansion, the largely unattended plants in the immense hot house display the same behaviour.
Following a scandal, Lilian is married off to a dreary missionary and effectively carted off to faraway India. Alice is left behind to attend to the daunting task of photographing the entire collection. What follows is an entertaining struggle of two intelligent young woman who are constantly scheming to reunite again.
'A Proper Education for Girls' is an unusual novel that superbly combines the tragic and the comic. I am sure Elain di Rollo was smiling all the way to the final page of her manuscript. Like I did when I was reading the novel. If we take the title of the book as a question, then the answer to 'A Proper Education for Girls' is simply: the freedom to live your own life.
'A Proper Education for Girls' was followed by 'Bleakly Hall'. Elaine di Rollo is now writing under her own name E.S. Thomson and recently published 'Beloved Poison'.
Elaine di Rollo tells this story in the manner of a satire. Despite numerous horrendous happenings - a death from lockjaw, a potential brutal operation, a massacre - the whole tale is narrated in a whimsical, rather forcedly jolly tone. The characters are - apart from perhaps Lilian and Alice - all cardboard cut-outs, from the eccentric, cat-loving aunts to the mad scientist papa, the fiendish medical man (who surprise surprise has a taste for pornography) and his rapacious wife, the lecherous Mr Hunter, the indecisive Mr Blake and the jolly English expats in India - who, surprise surprise, mostly come to a terrible end.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm surprised at the nay-sayers on here - if nothing else, this book is exceptionally well-written, and worth reading for its dark wit alone. But it's also has more to offer. Read morePublished on 15 Sept. 2012 by S. Caughie
I loved this book, the characters, the setting, the story. A real gem. Miss this one at your pearl you won't be disappointed, its fantastic. I hope there is to be sequal.Published on 7 Aug. 2011 by Gill
Dealing with 19th century medicine, sexism, science and imperalism (and yes, that turns out to be a bit much to fit into 300 short pages), this is, or rather wants to be, both what... Read morePublished on 30 Jan. 2011 by Boko
Elaine di Rollo - The Peachgrowers' Almanac
Is this really a "sober" scientist's writing? Read more
I absolutely loved this book. It was not at all what I expected and I found myself still turning pages at 4am. Read morePublished on 2 Aug. 2010 by Mel
I suppose people who submit reviews to Amazon are mainly from people who enjoyed it. I didn't. It's not bad; the basic idea is clever, the characterisations are deftly drawn, and... Read morePublished on 23 July 2010 by Robert Ward
I was blown away by this book - it wasn't at all what I expected. The humour, adventure and derring-do was all there as promised but it was also incredibly dark, with lashings of... Read morePublished on 19 April 2010 by Harriet the Spy