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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Review - Elizabeth Palmer's The Distaff Side

This book was not recommended by anyone neither did I see it on any of the book blogs I read. I picked it up purely because of the cover - I sort of like the cover which I thought a bit rakish! I also liked that it began in 1917 and went on (this is a period which I have just begun to read about and have liked so far).

The book revolves around Bertie a rather nice young man whose mother Augusta proverbially rules the roost. Her husband is a peaceful man who does his own thing whilst allowing his strong willed wife to do whatever she wishes. We then have Mai who is Bertie's betrothed who breaks up her engagement with him as he is pressurised by his mother to force Mai to give up her support for the suffragette movement. The story actually takes off from there and goes on to not just one but two sad marriages - one of Bertie who is pushed into marriage with the so called Princess Zhenia from Russia, a bogus fraud and murderer! Then we have poor Mai who marries Ned and who very shortly thereafter realises what a stupid mistake she has made.

The story is convoluted - it has murder, robbery, fraud, romantic liaisons of every kind but it is also very descriptive of the period which it covers. A great deal of the women's movement and the suffragette movement is covered and it is also very informative of the life of women in this period (and how much we have to appreciate that we are living in the present times!!!). How even strong willed, financially independent women were often governed by the men in their lives and how society and traditions expected them to conform - mainly for the good of the men in their lives.

I was glad that I picked up this book from my Carnegie library. The book was a good read and I'd like people to read this one.


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I like the cover too - glad to see you enjoyed this one!

Amused said...

I would have picked this one up for the cover too! That era is one of my faves as well!

Diane said...

This sounds like a great story and WOW that cover speaks to me as well! Great find.

Vivienne said...

See know I would have picked this one up for the cover too. It is awesome.

Anonymous said...

I love books set during this period (both fiction and non). I haven't heard of this one before, is it reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh? And I would have picked this up just for the cover too!

Deby Novitz said...

I like the cover too! I found your blog when you commented on mine. Your blog is really nice. Very different. I like it.