on 31 January 2010
This is one of the sparkling gems of Victorian erotic literature, one of the batch reprinted by Grove Press in the 1980s, anonymously, and since by Blue Moon, under the authorship of Patrick Henden. As with most of the Grove Press collection, this one concerns a time and place in which moneyed families with country houses lived in isolation from the general populace, and were essentially idle apart from their freedom to disport themselves libidinously, one family with another. The eponymous Katherine is the adopted daughter of one such family. She enters an arranged marriage with the son of the Beresford family, an effeminate young man given to wearing female clothing. His inability to satisfy her in the marriage bed is of little consequence, however, as she finds a wealth of opportunities amongst the males (and females) of neighbouring families, and various passing travellers. Cane, whip and birch serve to stimulate and to discourage unwillingness. There are thus many opportunities for erotic encounters, involving a range of generations, in which family ties are deemed unimportant. The book begins superbly, although it does eventually descend into the formulaic devices common in the genre, including a yacht voyage and a spell in a girl's school. An excellent example of the genre which falls short of perfection only in this latter failing.