What is a "good" wife? Margaret Forster explores four marriages, including her own, in different times and societies to find the answer.
In 1845, in Africa, Mary Moffatt became the wife of the missionary David Livingstone - and her obedience and devotion eventually killed her. A hundred and fifteen years later, Margaret Forster married Hunter Davies in a Register Office, and interpreted the role very differently. Between those two marriages is a huge gulf in which women's lives and the notion of marriage changed immeasurably.
Forster traces the shift in emphasis from submission to partnership, first through the marriage of the unconventional American, Fanny Osbourne, to Robert Louis Stevenson in the late 19th century; and then through that of the charismatic Jennie Lee to Aneurin Bevan in the 1930s. Jennie, a politician in her own right, was never submissive, rejected all notions of inferiority, and yet she found, as does the author, that aspects of being a wife remained as problematic as ever.
Why does a woman still want to be a wife in the twenty-first century? What is the value of marriage today? Why do couples still marry in church? These are some of the questions Forster asks as she weaves the personal experience of forty years, and the experiences of her own mother and grandmother, through the stories of three wives who have long fascinated her.
Forster focuses on the kind of intimate and everyday detail which has intrigued and gripped readers of her memoirs, biographies and fiction.
- Publication Date:
- 02 / 11 / 2001
- 155 x 237mm