I was going to put this into the What we are Reading thread but then became engrossed by the comments about it on the Good Reads website so thought I would open up a thread of its own for it.
I realise that only people who have read it will be able to comment thoroughly although wiki does have a very detailed synopsis
. I have no idea why I have never come across it before since according to several sources, it is widely regarded as the world's first bestseller, vying with Uncle Tom's Cabin for this honour.
It is by the author of Queechy, Susan Warner, writing under her apparently usual pseudonym of Elizabeth Wetherall. Jo March reads it in Little Women and we know our Jo read Queechy so probably also read The Wide, Wide World, though I don't remember any mention of it.
I picked up a copy on Monday of a version abridged by Joyce Lankester Brisley, of Milly Molly Mandy fame, complete with delightful illustrations. I devoured it in one gulp and have since looked at the original on Project Gutenberg
. Although the Brisley adaptation is good, for the full Victorian moral and religious effects one certainly needs the original....
What fascinates me about the comments on Good Reads
is how irate many people are about the themes in the book of submission by women, the superiority of men, and the bowing of one's will to the Almighty.
I personally don't understand these reactions. The book is of its time; whilst one might rejoice in the changes that have occurred in the following 150 years, I am not sure that anger is an appropriate reaction to the author's treatment of the issues.
Has anyone read it? And if so (and even if not) what do people think about this? Since not dissimilar reactions surface sometimes with regard to various themes in the CS books I thought it might be interesting to widen the debate....