Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Wedlock by Wendy Moore
I don't often read non-fiction, in fact thinking about it the last three non-fiction books I have read have been as part of a book group. I enjoy non-fiction books but I don't find them as gripping or as page turning as fiction books, Wedlock was an exception.
One of the richest women in England, Mary was duped into her second marriage to Andrew Stoney and thus began 8 years of brutality. In those days it was impossible to obtain a divorce unless you went through an act of parliament so Mary was virtually trapped in this situation. One of the more surprising aspects of this book (or perhaps not so surprising) was that the abuse suffered by Mary from her husband was more or less like the abuse stories you hear from women today. Its scary how in this respect little has changed.
Aside from beating her, limiting her food and not giving her any money to buy even the smallest essentials (she would often wear cast offs from her maids and sometimes even her maids would lend her money out of their own wages) he also kept her prisoner. She was not allowed to leave the house without permission and only with an escort, she was not allowed to speak in public without his permission and her letters were all dictated to her. She was also cut off from her friends and mother. The servants worked as Stoneys spies and if they did show kindness to Mary they were sacked (one maid was sacked after smuggling some meat to her)
What’s more remarkable was not what she endured during those 8 years with Stoney but her eventual escape. In a time where women did not own anything including their own children it seems remarkable that this women managed to get away at all.
There is not too much useless information which sometimes plagues historical books and there are insights into how marriages worked in Georgian England as well as the role of women. I also honestly cant think of a character (fiction or non-fiction) as hateful as Stoney, I really wanted him to receive his just deserts. A fascinating story which I found a thrilling read.
Posted by Jess