Betty Burton, Author Scribner Book Company $18.95 (376p) ISBN 978-0-684-18722-8
Burton convincingly portrays the rigorous agrarian life in southern England during the late 18th century, and a young woman's unwillingness to accept humiliating marital servitude. At first, precocious Jude Nugent helps on the family farm, but soon she stuns her mother, Bella, by deciding to become literate. Her aspiration irritates those who believe that lower-class females should remain contentedly ignorant and obedient, but a friend enthusiastically agrees to teach the girl. Her refusal to be intellectually or emotionally oppressed by men causes Jude to shun wedlock, a feeling reinforced by the lamentable status of Bella, who became pathetically undemonstrative after Jude's father ran off with a milkmaid years ago. Jude's anguished sister has also fared badly, for her body and dignity have been callously degraded by the tyrant she married. Nevertheless, Jude's insistence on spinsterhood is threatened by her own burgeoning femininity, and by attractive Will Vickery, whose nonconformity makes him her kindred spirit. Burton needlessly switches from third- to first-person narrative during one very lengthy passage, but this story is rewardingly subtle and poignant. (January 20)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 624 pages - 978-0-7089-8403-1
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