In a few short pages,” writes Francine Prose in her Introduction, “May Sinclair succeeds in rendering the oppressive weight and strength. This short book charts the life of Harriett Frean, from birth to death. She is born into a well to do Victorian tradesman’s family in a London suburb. Life and Death of Harriett Frean: English literature: The literature of World War I and the interwar period: Olivier: A Life () and Life and Death of Harriett.

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Existing Sorrowfully to Live Beautifully: Oh, what the hell. It was republished by Penguin Books in and has been reprinted many times. Our histories of two countries are so similar and this book looked like something I may want to delve into sometime.

This was a really good book and i’m glad i read it. Dec 28, T. Social protection, self interest, and the deep insecurity of the middle class, this novel cuts to the heart of the good life. Not in the same league, but interesting nonetheless — and also interesting that she has been the topic of critical reappraisal. Her face shone white between her long, hanging curls. Return to Book Page. It’s amusing that a story can be woven out of something ordinary; it’s even part of Project Gutenberg!

That is the fream. Essentially, the story revolves around the detached illustration of the way well-meaning social rules can create a monster. There are a lot of lessons deatn you could learn from this book, such as never be too good, never give up your dreamsand be yourself.

How could she act selfishly, even if the consequences would save her best friend’s life? I love the way in which Harriett is followed from her early childhood until her last days. Either the operation or the pain, going on and on, stabbing with sharper and sharper knives; cutting in deeper; all their care, the antiseptics, the restoratives, harriety it out, giving it more time to torture her.

The saddest aspect of her life is that she may as well never have existed; on her death, she simply fades away into oblivion, with no mark of her long life left behind to be remembered by. This section does not cite any sources. In her mind she is above all of ov friends because her father is intellectual, her mother is elegant and she herself is such a good child.


Hope the link works. Jun 16, Kerri barriett it really liked it. It is, in its aand quiet and understated way, one of the most disturbing novels I have ever read.

The Life and Death of Harriett Frean by May Sinclair | Book Snob

Feb 27, Erin rated it really freqn it Shelves: You are commenting using your Facebook account. Harriett Frean was one of these women, and her sheer helplessness and passivity both infuriated me and left me feeling desperately sorry for the generations of women like her who never had the chance to truly live.

Bluestockings is excellent and again, one for you considering your academic interests! Clair, Superficially, it is a nothing little book: The slimness of the volume and the generous margins helped it’s really more of a novellabut the prose was also nicely pellucid and readable.

The author, May Sinclair, was a poppin’ writer, feminist, and suffragette in the early s who was hugely influential to modernist literature but she’s almost completely forgotten. There was something obscurely dangerous about it. A concise, poignant look at the dangers of being who we think we should be rather than truly living. In Harriet, following that precept through self-sacrifice and repression is not about bringing about the best outcome for others, it is about preserving her own personal moral purity and beauty.

Her actions destroy the lives of herself, her best friend, and the man she loves.

The Life and Death of Harriett Frean

It is also a dark and harsh critique of late Victorian morals and propriety as well as an examination of the dark side of familial bonds. Probably, it was really the author’s idea to frdan a story about the ordinary life of an “almost recluse”. May Sinclair Mary Amelia St. I caught a little mouse under the chair… Have you seen the Queen, Hatty?

She has opened her house to boarders so technically, she doesn’t live alone. What a really well-written review!

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She would ffean over the cot and lift Ljfe up, and her face would be hidden in curls. Of course these men who dismissed the capabilities of womankind clearly never ventured outside of their comfortable middle class neighbourhoods; for centuries working class women had worked for their livings, supporting their families in factories, shops, or through home based labour such as washing or needlework, all while managing to bear children and run a home.


There is an excellent film feature on the suffragists called Iron Jawed Angels that you might want to see at some point depicting the women and harrieyt they had to endure. Harriett’s education surrounded her with bars of protection from the outside world ,which soon become bars that were imprisoning her. A trip to the library beckons I think!

Nowadays, the protagonist seems almost mythologically empty, unable and unwilling to ever form any personality, goals, or really any relationship to the world whatsoever beyond a veneration of her father and the love she heroically destroyingly denied herself.

Life and Death of Harriett Frean by May Sinclair – Reading Guide – : Books

And we saw her life come full circle and it was everything but beautiful thing. Pages to import images to Wikidata Articles needing additional references from December All articles lfie additional references Articles with LibriVox links All frwan articles. This action makes Harriett feel morally superior and gives her great pleasure; that is, until her actions are called into question later in life by a younger friend, and Harriett starts to realise that perhaps her life has not been one of beautiful self sacrifice after all, but instead a catalogue of wasted opportunities and a lack of courage.

Retrieved from ” https: However, the book is also a more modernistic piece in that Harriett almost becomes insane due to the path her life takes a mundane one and questions her belief in very outdated Victorian values such as the family and ‘beautiful behaviour’. It’s hard to ‘like’ a novel that so ruthlessly and efficiently constructs a woman’s cage of self-deprivation and extreme self-effacement to the point of near disappearance. Harriet wants nothing more than to be like her mother and to act “good” by the standards of her parents.