The Odd Women, Chapters 1 – 9

Last night, a motley crew discussed the first nine chapters of George Gissing’s The Odd Women. You can relive (or live) it by reading the hashtag #oddgals, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Dr. Madden: latter day Mr. Bennet (a la P&P)?
  • What is the relationship between work (or maybe purpose) and healthy and beauty?
  • Is Alice Madden’s vegetarianism about poverty or creeping progressivism?
  • We talked about the use of description; at times there’s lot of it, but then it goes missing during pages and pages of dialogue. Why is that? What effect does it have on a modern reader?
  • Why did so many Madden sisters die in chapter two?
  • The text criticizes “feebler fiction.” What’s up with that? (And what books was Virginia reading? Where can we find them?)
  • What is the text saying about morality and the city? How does London–or an existence outside of a traditional family/social structure–shape the lives and loves of the titular odd women?
  • Courtship vs. stalking: where is the line? And is there intentional critique in the text, or are we bringing it with us?
  • Predictions: Widowwson will be bad news, Everard is dissolute, and the money situation is going to get more dire for the Madden sisters.

We also discussed the emotional connection we felt (or not) to our protagonists Monica and Rhoda. The Gissing expert, Clarissa Harwood, suggested that we’d be more engaged emotionally, and not just intellectually, in their journey next week.

So chapters 10 – 19 for next time!

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2 thoughts on “The Odd Women, Chapters 1 – 9

  1. Thanks for summing up our conversation last night, Emma. I must protest, though, that I am in no way a “Gissing expert”! And I will now be devastated if our book club members don’t become emotionally invested in the characters next week . . . :)

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