7.4.10

Book Review: Wedlock by Wendy Moore


Precocious and indulged, Mary Eleanor Bowes was the richest heiress in eighteenth century Britain. Scandalous rumours were quick to spread when she fell under the spell of handsome Irish solider, Andrew Robinson Stoney. When Mary heard that her gallant hero was mortally wounded in a duel fought to defend her honour, she felt she could hardly refuse his dying wish to marry her.
Yet within hours of the ceremony, Stoney seemed to be in the grip of a miraculous recovery and Mary found herself trapped in an appallingly brutal marriage. She was terrorised by violence, humiliation, deception and kidnap but the life of Mary Eleanor Bowes is a remarkable tale of triumph in the face of overwhelming betrayal.

Wedlock has to be the best non-fiction book that I have read in a long while. I had to keep reminding myself that Mary Eleanor Bowes was not a fictional character but she had really lived through these horrendous events. Wendy Moore's book reads very much like a work of fiction, it is very detailed and the way she recounts Mary's life story from beginning to end has you gripped.
Mary Eleanor Bowes endured both physica; and mental abuse at the hands of the man she married. Andrew Robinson Stoney was a vile and sadistic man who would do anything for his own gain. Whilst there are many instances where the reader pities Mary during the book, Wendy Moore does not shy away from highlighting her many faults. Mary's unloving attitude to her eldest son cannot be explained nor can we ignore the consequences of her promiscuous behaviour before marriage. I think that Wendy Moore delivers a more credible book by presenting Mary warts and all. It is as if she is giving the reader all of the information she can in order for them to make their own minds up.
Moore highlights the lowly position of women during Mary's era. Mary came to the marriage with far more money, respectability and status but as soon as she had taken her vows she was powerless to the whims of her detestable new husband. What really struck me as I read the book was how many other Mary Eleanor Bowes were there and has the predicament of domestic abuse really changed that much. We know of Mary's treatment through diaries, letters and legal documents but how many other women suffered in the same way as her but did not divulge the mistreatment in any way.
I admit that I gave up turning back to the notes section each time that something was cited as I felt as though it took away the flow of the story for me. Wendy Moore has written a fascinating account of one woman's unbearably unhappy and harmful marriage. Even though dealing with Georgian England, the issue that Moore raises are unfortunately still relevant in this century.

18 comments:

Kirsty said...

Ooh, this sounds really interesting, thanks for writing about it.

Dot said...

Kirsty- You're welcome, it was such an interesting book!

Nadia said...

Wow! This sounds so interesting, Dot. When I read the blurb you included I thought it was a fiction text, but then you mentioned it was nonfiction and got me completely engrossed in your review. This will definitely be a must read for me. Thanks for reviewing this book, because I wouldn't have heard of it otherwise. Cheers!

Dot said...

Nadia- It reads just like fiction, I was gripped. Hope you enjoy it!

Shan said...

Great review. I passed by the book on Amazon the other day, it briefly caught my eye but I wasn't sure about it. Your review makes me want to read it now!

(Love your site, there's a lot of books here that I have read or am interested in. Look forward to following you.)

Dot said...

Shan- Thank you, I kept on looking at it on Amazon and I'm so glad that I gave in and bought it!

Charlie said...

It sounds interesting but a very hard read. It's important for these things to be written about.

You saying it reads like fiction, I personally really rate that, and footnotes bother me too. For that first mentioned aspect alone I'm interested in reading this.

Dot said...

Charlie- It really wasn't a hard read as the story is so gripping! I get really annoyed with footnotes and having to flick back and forth so I just ignored them, didn't take anything away from the book for me!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Poor woman. This does sound like a great read. I think I had heard of it before but it had slipped off my radar, so I am glad that you have jogged my memory. And the fact that it reads like fiction, awesome. Glad you had a good read.

Dot said...

Nicole- Thank you, it was a very interesting read. She experienced some shocking treatment from her husband, I had to remind myself that it was real.

Scattie said...

Thanks for writing this review, I have been wondering whether to buy this everytime I go to the bookshop, and now I know that this is going to be a must have on my next visit!

Hugsxx

Dot said...

Scattie- Thank you, hope you enjoy reading it!!

Jessica said...

Hi, I loved this book and gave it a rave review on my blog but I haven't seen anyother reviews about it in blogland. Im glad you loved it too and I wasnt the only one!

Dot said...

Jessica- I was beginning to think I was the only one too! I thought it was the best non-fiction that I have read in a long while! Just been an visited your blog, it's lovely!

thebookwormchronicles said...

I've seen this book about but this is the first review of read of it, thank you. You have confirmed my suspicions that I would like this book :-)

Dot said...

The Bookworm Chronicles- I think that you would probably really enjoy this one, it is really gripping considering that it is non-fiction.

Meg said...

Whoa! Sounds like a really wild read. Non-fiction that reads like a novel always gets my attention... this sounds like something I'd be interested in. And that cover is haunting!

Dot said...

Meg- The cover's great isn't it, it's such a good book!

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