Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance

This novel is set in Victorian-era New York, in 1884, it tells the story of Lucy Carleton, a high society wife struggling with her own desires, to be free to live life on her own terms and express herself artistically by painting. But Lucy is a woman against the world, her nouveau-riche husband, stern, unsympathetic father, and the upper-crust society she was born into frown on any deviations from a proper wife's well-defined role. She is expected to spend her life elegantly gowned attending society teas, dinner parties, balls, gala events, and the opera, playing the perfect hostess at home, and being a beautiful ornament her husband can be proud to call his own.
To cure Lucy of these "improper" desires and the accompanying physical and nervous manifestations of them (anxiety, depression, willfulness, neglect of social obligations, etc.) her husband forces her to see numerous doctors until she falls under the spell of a clever but controversial new physician who uses hypnotism in his practice.

Dr. Victor Seth holds out the promise of a cure, but he may have an ulterior motive of his own. And will that cure come in the form family and society expect? I won't spoil it for you.

"An Inconvenient Wife" offers a fascinating look at Victorian medicine and psychology, the often barbaric and inhumane treatments of nervous and psychological disorders, and the domestic and social oppressiveness of an era where even a well made and intentioned marriage could sometimes become a prison and a trap.



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