Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace

Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace by Kate Summerscale is a wonderful non-fiction book about a gentlewoman and her diary. When her husband reads it and discovers his wife has had adulterous fantasies, he starts divorce proceedings and uses the diary as evidence. Actually Mr. Robinson believes what he’s read is more fact than fiction. Unfortunately for Mrs. Robinson, passages of the diary are made public when they are printed in the newspaper and her reputation is ruined. How awful!

Mrs. Isabelle Robinson is a widow with a child when she agrees to marry Henry Robinson. Right from the beginning Isabelle realizes her error in marrying Henry. Isabelle and her family have money and it becomes obvious that Henry has married her to get his hands on her assets, at least the monetary kind!  While he is not violent towards her neither is he warm and fuzzy. Isabelle and Henry have two more sons together but she is less than thrilled or fulfilled with her marriage.

Journaling or keeping a diary came into vogue in the mid 19th century for both men and women but I’m not sure if the majority of them contained such salacious reading material as the one belonging to Isabelle Robinson.

From Isabelle’s diary it is obvious that she dreams of romance and yearns for some young, handsome stud to take her away from her dreary life with Mr.Robinson. Isabelle is an intellect and a beautiful writer who enjoys evenings with friends that have similar interests. While living in Edinburgh, Isabelle spends many evenings with a family that stimulates this part of her soul. Lady Darlington, and her daughter and son-in-law, Dr Edward and Mary Lane. She falls madly in love with the younger Edward Lane and writes incessantly about this infatuation in her diary.

The courtroom proceedings between the Robinson’s was explosive and caused quite a sensation in the prudish Victorian era. Although many woman must have had the same feelings of boredom and unfullfillment in their marriages never before had it been so brazenly and shockingly verbalized.

A fantastic read for those of us who love all things Victorian.

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7 thoughts on “Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace

  1. I saw this on prominent display in my local Waterstones Bookshop about an hour ago – I was tempted but decided against buying it. Having read your review, I’ve changed my mind. Which gives me a perfect excuse to go back to the bookshop again tomorrow!

  2. I have this on kindle now and can’t wait to read it, I loved her first book. I’m in a bit of a slow read period, which is ok, but the books I want to read keep mounting! Happily a weekend with no plans awaits me. Loved your review, thank you 🙂

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