Secresy - Second Edition

Front Cover
Broadview Press, Oct 9, 1998 - Fiction - 376 pages
1 Review

Secresy was Eliza Fenwick’s only work for adults—a fact that may help to explain why this extraordinary novel has been so thoroughly overlooked. On one level this is a book that presents fascinating challenges to traditional structures of class and gender. Whereas Mr. Valmont, the villain of the piece, rejects merely the surface forms of fashionable society, the story of his niece Sibella and her friend Caroline implicitly rejects the substance as well as the trappings of a system that rested on class privilege and on female dependence. Secresy is also, though, a remarkable novel of human relationships: of sexuality (Sibella’s pregnancy is the occasion for the secrecy that gives the book its title), and of romantic love, but also the female friendship between Sibella and Caroline that is very much at the heart of the book. The relationships—and the grand themes—are expressed through an epistolary technique through which Fenwick (in the editor’s words) shows "a breadth of sympathy which can find comedic pleasure even in what is disapproved.”


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Review: Secresy: Or the Ruin of the Rock

User Review  - n* Dalal - Goodreads

One of the best books I've ever stolen from my coffee shop job. Fair enough; I didn't really steal very many, but this one was just sitting around for months! The author, Eliza Fenwick, was a ... Read full review

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Fenwick s first book for children
Fenwick s second adult novel
Fenwick s correspondence

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Page 15 - My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
Page 26 - I may be accused of arrogance; still I must declare what I firmly believe, that all the writers who have written on the subject of female education and manners from Rousseau to Dr. Gregory, have -contributed to render women more artificial, weak characters, than they would otherwise have been; and, consequently, more useless members of society.
Page 27 - It is vain to expect virtue from women till they are in some degree independent of men; nay, it is vain to expect that strength of natural affection which would make them good wives and mothers. Whilst they are absolutely dependent on their husbands they will be cunning, mean, and selfish...
Page 26 - I do not believe that a private education can work the wonders which some sanguine writers have attributed to it. Men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the society they live in. In every age there has been a stream of popular opinion that has carried all before it, and given a family character, as it were, to the century. It may then fairly be inferred, that, till society be differently constituted, much cannot be expected from education.
Page 27 - How much more respectable is the woman who earns her own bread by fulfilling any duty, than the most accomplished beauty!
Page 24 - What is still more horrible, the Gentlemen are greatly addicted to their women slaves, & give the fruit of their licentiousness to their white children as slaves.

About the author (1998)

Isobel Grundy is Henry Marshall Tory Professor at the University of Alberta. She was co-editor of The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. She is author of a biography, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Comet of the Enlightenment (1999), and is also a co-Investigator on the Orlando Project (an electronic history of women’s writing in the British Isles).

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