Marriage, by Susan Ferrier

ellieanor's review

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challenging funny lighthearted relaxing slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


annastarlight's review against another edition

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Rather than being about marriage, I see this book more as a collection of observations on women and their follies and virtues. Ferrier is a fantastic observer of human nature, and her dialogue feels genuine even across centuries. It's a shame no one reads her - though occasionally moralistic, Marriage contains a cast of great humorous characters. Lady Emily was my absolute favourite.

Trigger warnings:
Spoilerdeath of parent or family member, dementia, parental abandonment. Contains a few instances of anti-semitism.

catebutler's review against another edition

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VMC Book Club - January 2018

rmtbray's review against another edition

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Marriage is a book in two volumes, and the second really is better than the first, which acts as a kind of very long warm up to story of the second (and a very obvious moral juxtaposition). It's easy to see where the Austen comparisons come from, but this does Ferrier a disservice as no, it isn't as good, but by constantly comparing the two as you read it brings Marriage down. However, some comparisons just have to be made:

I think the biggest flaw is that Ferrier reports a lot of what takes place, rather than narrating scenes as Austen does, and this means that the reader gets a lot less close to the characters than in Austen.
Spoiler How Mary and Lennox fall in love, for example, is something we do not see/read happening, we just get told, 'oh, he fell in love with her' and then 'oh, she realised that she loved him too.'
This means there's a lot less emotional investment in the main characters than in Austen's novels.

There are also far too many "humorous" characters, who again are often reported to us in long blocks that read more like Dickens' [b:Sketches of Young Couples|5182003|Sketches of Young Couples (Dodo Press)|Charles Dickens||5249096] and the like than parts of the story - they also add nothing to the thrust of the novel, and if most of them were left out (no bad thing) this would be a much shorter book! Again, in Austen the reader is left to, on the whole, discover the follies of the characters herself, rather than literally having them spelled out to you, both in the descriptions of characters and even in their names - Mrs Downe Wright, for example *cue groans*.

However, this is still a good book because it is firstly an engaging, funny story with a likeable (if little too goody goody) heroine. It's also interesting to read as a piece of history, a reminder that in the early 1800s Jane Austen was not the only lady-novelist that people read!