Across an Untried Sea: Discovering Lives Hidden in the Shadow of Convention and Time

Julia Markus, Author Alfred A. Knopf $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-679-44599-9
Markus's latest foray into the world of Victorian passion describes the complexly intertwined circle of accomplished women who were involved with the American actress Charlotte Cushman in the mid-19th century. Among them were the sculptor Harriet Hosmer; the novelist Geraldine Jewsbery; the object of Geraldine's passionate attachment, Jane Welsh Carlyle (the wife of British historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle); and several others. All these women, save Jane, made their deepest emotional commitments to one another, often in a ""Boston marriage,"" and may or may not have been sexually involved. However, Markus sheds very little light on the nature of these relationships or their historical context. We learn next to nothing about how these women managed to succeed in their independent careers at a time when women, especially in Britain, had virtually no autonomy. Indeed, because of the peculiarities of Markus's style, which mixes a Victorian fondness for exclamation points and italics with 20th-century slang, the unwary reader might have difficulty figuring out exactly when these women flourished. Markus, who previously dealt with the marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning in Dared and Done, appears to believe that the news that our ancestors were sexual beings is sufficient to carry a book. It is not. 73 illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 258 pages - 978-0-307-83298-6
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