Proper ladies hiding the penny book behind a magazine’s pages sitting in the parlor, becoming flushed and distracted as their husbands elucidate on their day’s events. The Mom I Love You Three Thousand shirt proves that Mrs. Robinson’s predicament was not an isolated incident. Women and their desires were suppressed and repressed and used as a plot twist in many literary contributions of the times. Sexual inequality is still seen today; men are studs, women are whores. Women deserve to be raped. Single mothers shouldn’t have a social life. Has society evolved?
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I feel like this is two separate books in one, neither of which I have any desire to re-visit. The title starts out promising, and then it’s all yawn from there. The book really does not pick up speed until midway through, at the Mom I Love You Three Thousand shirt divorce proceedings. Even then, Summerscale takes so many side trips down irrelevant avenues that I started to wonder if these tangents don’t serve the purpose of fluff and filler. Do we really have an aching need to learn everything there is to know about hydrotherapy, phrenology and other voodoo sciences of the Victorian era?
Or could we not write a book filled with the Mom I Love You Three Thousand shirt of a woman’s place in that society, the medical history behind hysteria and declarations of insanity due to female complaints, and the laws and precedents that led up to the divorce of Henry Robinson and his wife, Isabella? I think there is an abundance of material available in the world that readers of this book are looking for and will not find here. Too bad, as that would have strengthened this story in a historical context. I wanted to learn and I was denied, instead fed trivia that had very little to do with what should have been the main subject of the book. I’m truly disappointed, and that does not happen often.