Read Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins Free Online
Book Title: Harriet|
The size of the: 7.71 MB
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: June 26th 1980
ISBN 13: 9780140055825
The author of the book: Elizabeth Jenkins
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books Harriet:it is a sad thing that Jenkins' 1934 novel is not better known! perhaps the darkness, realism, and tragedy that form the basis of this novel's insights on humanity's often predatory nature has precluded it from being embraced.
the premise is simple enough. take a "natural" from any given Austen novel - those simple-minded, childish, often greedy, but also often innately sweet women who the central heroines usually have to protect or at least work around - and set her in a starkly realistic setting approximately 50 years later, filled with characters who truly will do what they feel they have to do to obtain money and comfort. although the language is similar - charmingly nuanced and understated dialogue; descriptive passages that are wry and subtle; characters who are pleasingly well-spoken and well-mannered - the result is very far from a comedy of manners. Harriet's narrative is instead a grueling series of escalating predations and degradations, politely told... because most people with no sense but some money do not have a Jane Austen heroine around to guide and protect them.
the discomfort this novel creates comes not just from the horrors that are visited upon the heroine but also from the inclusion of classic characters and situations that are instantly recognizable from the range of light comedies of manner that have been read and re-read over time. greed is a killer and predators will do anything to rationalize their predatory behavior (even to themselves) - particularly in a milieu where polite conversation and manners are as important as currency.
a dark and forgotten classic, one that is pitiless and passionless in its depictions of human cruelty. the novel is both subtle and furious in its underlying assessment of the avariciousness that can drive that cruelty.
Read information about the authorFrom Elizabeth Jenkins' obituary in The New York Times:
As a novelist, Ms. Jenkins was best known for “The Tortoise and the Hare” (1954), the story of a disintegrating marriage between a barrister and his desperate wife that Hilary Mantel, writing in The Sunday Times of London in 1993, called “as smooth and seductive as a bowl of cream.” Its author, Ms. Mantel wrote, “seems to know a good deal about how women think and how their lives are arranged; what women collude in, what they fear.”
To a wider public Ms. Jenkins was known as the author of psychologically acute, stylishly written, accessible biographies. Most dealt with important literary or historical figures, but in “Joseph Lister” (1960) she told the life of the English surgeon who pioneered the concept of sterilization in medicine, and in “Dr. Gully’s Story” (1972) she reconstructed a Victorian murder and love triangle.
Margaret Elizabeth Jenkins was born on Oct. 31, 1905, in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, where a year earlier her father had founded Caldicott, a prep school.
She studied English and history at Newnham College, Cambridge, where at the time women could take exams but not receive degrees. The principal of the college was Pernel Strachey, sister of the biographer and Bloomsbury figure Lytton Strachey, and through her Ms. Jenkins met Edith Sitwell and Leonard and Virginia Woolf.
She found the company intellectually distinguished but rude and unpleasant. Woolf’s description of Ms. Jenkins’s first novel, “Virginia Water” (1929), as “a sweet white grape of a book” did not erase the impression.
Despite good reviews for her first novel and a three-book deal with the publisher Victor Gollancz, Ms. Jenkins began teaching English at King Alfred’s School in Hampstead, where she remained until the outbreak of World War II.
In this period she wrote two of her most admired biographies, “Lady Caroline Lamb” (1932) and “Jane Austen” (1938), as well as the chilling “Harriet” (1934), a novel about the sufferings of a mentally disabled woman whose husband, a scheming clerk, marries for her money.
During the war Ms. Jenkins worked for the Assistance Board, helping Jewish refugees and victims of the German air raids on London. She later worked for the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Information.
“Elizabeth the Great” (1958) showed her biographical talents at their most effective. Although she relied on the standard historical sources, Ms. Jenkins added a psychological dimension to her portrait that other historians had scanted.
The historian Garrett Mattingly, in a review, wrote that Ms. Jenkins “is really not much interested in war and diplomacy, politics and finance.” Her specialty, he argued, was the human heart. “We believe Elizabeth Jenkins,” he added, “because, by imaginative insight and instinctive sympathy, she can make the figures of a remote historical pageant as real, as living, as three-dimensional as characters in a novel.”
Ms. Jenkins returned to the Elizabethan period in “Elizabeth and Leicester” (1961) and roamed further afield in “The Mystery of King Arthur” (1975) and “The Princes in the Tower” (1978). In “Six Criminal Women” (1949), she presented short studies of two murderers, a pickpocket, a blackmailer and a con artist living between the 14th and 19th centuries. A more wholesome gallery of characters was put on view in “Ten Fascinating Women” (1955).
In 1940 she helped found the Jane Austen Society and took part in its campaign to buy Austen’s house at Chawton, where Austen spent the last eight years of her life. It is now a museum.
Her novels included “Doubtful Joy” (1935), “The Phoenix’ Nest” (1936), “Robert and Helen” (1944), “Brightness” (1963) and “Honey” (1968).
In 2004 Ms. Jenkins published a memoir, “The View From Downshire Hill.” Its title refers to the Hampstead neighborhood whe
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