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A Proper Education for Girls by Elaine Di Rollo
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A Proper Education for Girls by Elaine Di Rollo

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One of our Bloggers Books of the Month for March

Chosen by  Cornflower Books

This is a peach of a book: deliciously ripe and juicy but with a stone-hard centre. I loved it, and put it straight on my 'books of the year' list.
The heroines of Elaine di Rollo's A Proper Education for Girls are twin sisters Lilian and Alice Talbot who live in a vast Victorian mansion with their controlling father and a number of his aged aunts. Lilian has 'disgraced' herself and been banished to India where, married to a dreary missionary, she is caught up in the Mutiny of 1857. 

   Alice, meanwhile, remains at home helping her father with his "Collection". Mr. Talbot has acquisitive habits that are second to none, and his enormous magpie's hoard of items scientific, decorative, quaint and curious, are ranged everywhere about his house. Alice, however, is a young woman of intelligence, open-minded, outspoken, independent of spirit; what future is there for her in this stultifying environment, and what chance of escape?
     What transpires is a "rollicking" adventure, both for Lilian in exile and Alice at home. I loved its humour, its scenes of great comic imagination, its fascinating factual basis. The author has a doctorate in the social history of medicine, and her research has been put to good but careful use here as we learn much about the treatment of women at the hands of the medical profession of the time (hence the 'stone-hard centre' I mentioned above). The book also features Bakewell tart, early photography, Victorian pornography, numbered mice, a mnemonic coat, a home-made volcano and a wonderful, wonderful conservatory.

    With a seedy butler called Sluce, Cattermole the odious medic, and Mr. Hunter the Flashman-esque plant-hunter, this highly imaginative novel is part Gothic farce with shades of Gormenghast and Monty Python. I hope I've done it justice (its cover does not, I think) for it is terrific stuff!


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Price: £7.99 £6.99

Product Code: APK25
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