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This Book Was Sexist But I Enjoyed The Writing | Artists’s Wives by Alphonse Daudet

July 30, 2017

Being a great lover of ice-cream does not excuse us from the undeniable fatigue that one gets after consuming one too many spoonfuls. I apologise if you’re lactose intolerant and have never tasted ice-cream. I would make a joke, but I fear that it would be in poor taste – you never know with the internet these days. However, the point that I am trying to make is that too much of a good thing can become boring. Sickly even. To the point where you no longer want anything to do with what was once your favourite carton on the shelf. That was how I felt with this book.

I acknowledged that the book would probably have at least a hint of misogyny buried within it’s pages after all, I believe that this was first published in the 1800s. So I was prepared to point out the flaws in the book but also realise that a great deal of the thinking was simply the ‘done thing’ in those times. However, once I dived into the book I realised that while I would indeed be critiquing the book on the old ways of thinking, I would also be praising the writing of both the author and the writer who was introducing this old piece of writing to us. I was intrigued from page one.

This quality of writing continued throughout the book and all of it’s shorter stories, but after a couple of narratives has been read through, one thing became abundantly clear. Where the writing was beautiful, the plot was simply lacking. Absolutely nothing was happening. Had all of the stories been connected in some way, or a great deal of them merged into one (which would have limited repetition) then perhaps this would have been a wonderful anthology. However, this just missed the mark. It quickly got repetitive, and the stories presented themselves as bland copies of each other.

Common themes include the women being incredibly stupid and unable to realise the genius that is their husband. Quite often, they are cited as being responsible for their failures. There is also the idea that the women are prudish, timid creatures who hid behind fancy dresses and large dinners. Which, as I said earlier, I had gone in expecting. What I hadn’t expected were the same exact tropes in every single story. To be frank, it got boring especially when you consider that all of the focus was to be on the wives, and not their husbands.

I suppose this could be attributed as Daudet not knowing how to write about women outside of their roles that he imagined them to be as. They weren’t caricatures, but rather resembled something closer to cardboard cutouts. They were all incredibly bossy, arrogant yet contrastingly timid and shy. It was an odd mix, that eventually lead to an uneventful read.

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Introduction 4/5
Why am I rating the introduction? I enjoyed the writing, that’s why. Although there was a questionable statement that mentioned that more books were published in their times as opposed to today, the way in which the flow was kept and the words were mixed together was great fun to read.

Prologue 5/5
This was what convinced me that this was going to be an entertaining read. The conversation between two men is engaging and the layout in interesting. It promised of brilliant things to come.

Madame Heurtebise 2/5
A sob story about a man marrying a woman who he then blamed for ruining his life that was full of whining. The only reason I gave it two stars was because this made me laugh. I know, I’m a bad person. #savage

The total absence of wrinkles told less of youth than of complete lack of thought.

The Credo of Love 3/5
Honestly, there was nothing terribly wrong with this story in which: a young woman runs away from her older husband into the arms of an ass of a poet. It was simply uneventful.

The Transteverina 3/5
This was about a woman who had been brought to another country, where her husband’s friends found her quite the spectacle. She was also, apparently, quite terrifying to her husband. I don’t know if I was supposed to find this funny, but I did.

A Couple of Singers 4/5
Both husband and wife were quite pathetic in this, but I think that it was quite a true representation of what might happen in the real world. Definitely interesting to read.

A Misunderstanding 5/5
I loved how this was written. It was a little confusing at the start, but once I got in the swing of it I began to really enjoy it.

Assault With Violence 3/5
I liked the layout, but due to the length of the story it was almost impossible to have any character development. It was honestly like reading a really boring newspaper.

Bohemia At Home 3/5
This was a sweet story about girls not needing to get married, although it was a little useless. I really didn’t get what was happening.

Fragment of a Woman’s Letter Found in the Rue Notre-Dame-Des-Champs 3/5
This was alright. The narrator was a little confused and I didn’t like her stance on some things but hey, we can’t have it all.

A Great Man’s Widow 4/5
This was a story about a woman making the best of her situation, possibly taking it a bit far, and gaining attention / respect from her peers who previously had favoured her husband over her.

The Deceiver 4/5
I thought this was pretty funny although you could definitely spot the twist from the beginning.

The Comtesse Irma 5/5
I liked this one because it focused primarily on the women. It was one of the only stories in this collection that portrayed women as having brains. Admittedly, there was quite a bit of girl on girl hate, but nearing the end that quickly disappeared.

The Confidences of An Academic Coat 4/5
I though this was an interesting take on the whole trophy wife / husband thing because I haven’t really read stories that show the women as the powerhouse. I appreciated the message, but I do think that it could have been written a little better.

For you will never be else in life, my dear fellow, but the husband of a pretty women.

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Have you read this? There really aren’t that many reviews for this, so I’m guessing it’s kind of under the radar. Which is fine. Honestly it really wasn’t that great, just kind of average.

Fleur xox

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  • Reply Karen Dennis July 30, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    This book sounds interesting because it is different, I am going to buy the Kindle version

  • Reply July Wrap Up 2017 – Fleur Henley July 31, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    […] This Book Was Sexist But I Enjoyed The Writing | Artists’s Wives by Alphonse Daudet […]

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