This is a truly extraordinary novel that lays bare the problems facing women of a particular class in Victorian England. The daughters of the ‘respectable’, but poorly paid professionals, such as the clergy or doctors with poor practices, didn’t inherit enough capital to live on and had no way of earning their own living. Their only hope of financial security was to secure a husband. But there were 150,000 more women than men in the country, so many women remained single – the odd women. In this case the term ‘odd’ is used as in ‘the odd ones out’, meaning somehow surplus, rather than in any way peculiar. Gissing describes in detail the difficult lives they led and in doing so provides a fascinating insight.
It should be available in print format from all good bookshops, although I obtained it as a free download for Kindle from Amazon. The Odd Women (Oxford World’s Classics)