Jan. 23rd, 2017

skygiants: Nellie Bly walking a tightrope among the stars (bravely trotted)
I just finished reading Sylvia Townsend Warner's Summer Will Show -- a deeply weird, depressing, idealistic, fascinating, occasionally horrible book. I think I loved it but I don't know at all whether I feel OK telling anybody else to read it, so I'm just going to talk about it and we'll see where that gets us.

Summer Will Show -- set in 1848 but written in 1936, and if you read it you will not forget it was written in 1936 -- focuses on Sophia Willoughby, a pragmatic, stoical, narrow-minded, extremely upper-class Englishwoman who has banished her philandering husband and is engaged in raising her two children on her well-ordered estate.

Sophia is very competent at fulfilling her role but feels deeply trapped and frustrated by every aspect of it, including being a mother. She hates having to worry about her sickly children and all the things that could conceivably kill them; she dreams of retreating to a cottage and doing things that it would never conceivably be allowable for her to do, like chopping her own damn wood. Obviously it is nonetheless awful when within the first forty pages or so, both of her children catch smallpox and die.

At a loss for purpose and next steps, and maybe not exactly in her clearest state of mind, Sophia decides to go to Paris and demand that her husband get her pregnant again so she can at least have something to do with the rest of her life. She happens to land right at the start of the February Revolution and the rest is lesbian revolutionary spoilers. )

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