On a mild winter's evening in 1850, Isabella Robinson set out for a party. Her carriage bumped across the wide cobbled streets of Edinburgh's Georgian New Town and drew up at 8 Royal Circus, a grand sandstone terrace lit by gas lamps. The guests were gathered in the high, airy drawing rooms on the first floor, the ladies in glinting silk and satin pulled tight over boned corsets; the gentlemen in tailcoats, waistcoats and neckties. When Mrs Robinson joined the throng she was at once enchanted by a Mr Edward Lane, a handsome medical student ten years her junior. He was 'fascinating', she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man's charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, which she was to find hard to shake...
Kate Summerscale is the author of the number one bestselling The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008, winner of the Galaxy British Book of the Year Award, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and adapted into a major ITV drama. Her first book, the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. Kate Summerscale has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London. Mrs Robinson's Disgrace is her third book.
Like her previous book, I was hooked after the first few pages. It's as good as non-fiction could possibly get Victoria Hislop, Daily Mail Extraordinary ... As one would expect from the author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, the material here is handled with confident subtlety. The history goes from the individual to the individual's world with seductive ease. This is a highly considered social history teased ... fascinating ***** -- Philippa Gregory Daily Telegraph Summerscale strikes non-fiction gold for the third time Independent on Sunday As in the wildly successful The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, the strange tale of Mrs Robinson acts as a whirlpool for all the furious undercurrents of an era. Summerscale's brilliance lies not only in recognising the power of a particular story, but in charting, with beautiful precision, its strange echoes and reverberations ***** -- Craig Brown Mail on Sunday 'Book of the Week' You'll find Fifty Shades of Grey on beaches everywhere ... but the story of Mrs Robinson deserves a place on summer reading lists. She is pretty hot stuff Boston Globe A masterful retelling of a true Victorian scandal ... a breathtaking achievement ... Summerscale's account of this court case is faultless; her seemingly inexhaustible capacity for research renders what could be tedious and vividly dry alive ... I'm all admiration: she has turned a sepia photograph, curling and tattered, into a film that runs through the mind in glorious and unimpeachable Technicolor -- Rachel Cooke Observer Book of the week ... a winning blend of biography and courtroom drama - and an important slice of social history ... an absorbing tale, admirably told by a mistress of her craft -- Valerie Grove The Times Grippingly suspenseful ... Mrs Robinson's Disgrace displays a scalpel-sharp investigative mind, and it vividly conveys the immediate surroundings of the case, from the stench of the polluted Thames infiltrating Westminster Hall to the degradations of Victorian marriage -- John Carey Sunday Times As a guide to mid-Victorian cultural life ... Summerscale is simply superb, and she sets a fine example of what cultural history can do Guardian Told with dazzling detail and exquisite tenderness, this non-fiction tale reads like a perfect novel Elle Absorbing ... grippingly told ... Summerscale's book is detailed, expansive and well informed -- Philip Hensher Spectator It's brilliant. Summerscale is a historian who writes like a novelist. A good novelist -- Lev Grossman Time Magazine Moving, compelling and brilliantly executed Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year The best kind of detective story ... Summerscale triumphantly avoids fairy ink and poesy both, producing a gripping account of the destruction of a marriage ... Sure to be a hit Sunday Telegraph This real-life Madame Bovary's ensuing divorce case scandalised society and Kate Summerscale brilliantly re-creates a Victorian world clinging to its rigid ideas about marriage and women's sexuality Good Housekeeping Her first book since the genre-busting Mr Whicher, and it makes a suitably gripping follow-up ... Summerscale puts this peculiar case in a wonderfully rich context of fads of the day ... Her courtroom reconstructions are vivid and enthralling, her research is impeccable and her narration coolly authoritative as she draws together what was happening around her subject and makes Mrs Robinson's volatile state of mind much more explicable -- Claire Harman Evening Standard Where Kate Summerscale's exhaustively researched book is most fascinating and disturbing is in laying bare contemporary anxieties about female sexuality **** Sunday Express Far more than the account of a failed marriage and its aftermath - or even the story of a torrid affair, imaginary or otherwise. In the manner of her prize-winning The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Kate Summerscale takes the records and reports of the court case and treats them like a detective story, skillfully building up the suspense Financial Times Utterly engrossing Woman & Home A marvellously compelling narrative as well as a superb piece of historical detection. But more than that, Summerscale has astutely positioned the case at the intersection of various legal and social developments Times Literary Supplement Kate Summerscale has a knack for rescuing Victorian histories from obscurity and turning them into the most compulsive books you're likely to find in any non-fiction section ... Thought-provoking stuff from a writer who, in putting the past in the dock, teaches us about who we are now Scotsman A great book-group read Red A gripping read: thoughtful, and studded with asides on Victorian culture The Lady A highly original and intimate look into the double standards of Victorian life ... Mrs Robinson could be as big a hit as Downton Abbey Washington Times Kate Summerscale follows The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, her gripping reconstruction of a Victorian murder case, with a look at domestic horror of a very different kind. It's the heart-breaking true story of Isabella Robinson Irish Times '30 Great Summer Reads' A fascinating insight into the inequalities of Victorian society, women's place in it and the boundaries of privacy Psychologies A fascinating story of desire, prejudice and cover-up ... Summerscale turns super-sleuth again -- Sebastian Shakespeare Tatler Summerscale painstakingly analyses medicine, property, divorce and the treatment of women Guardian Readers' Books of the Year
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady
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MRS ROBINSONS DISGRACE