The Odd Women by George Gissing

Cover imageThis 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)

The Nether World by George Gissing

Cover imageGissing made such extraordinary decisions in his private life that it’s hard not to suspect that he deliberately followed such a difficult path just so that he could write with conviction about his experiences. The reader is left in no doubt about the realities of the struggle for survival of the poor in Victorian London. If you enjoy the Dickens of Hard Times, you will enjoy Gissing. It is beautifully written and absorbing. This is Dickens with a harder edge. There seems little doubt that the popularity of the author could have surpassed that of Dickens himself if his personal life hadn’t been so unacceptable to Victorians. An excellent book by a writer who has been unfairly disregarded.

I obtained it as a free download for KIndle from Amazon. The Nether World (Oxford World’s Classics)