Clutching My Pearls is about Jane Austen and the times she lived in. The opinions are mine, but I don't claim originality. Click here for the first in the series. For more about other female writers of Austen's time, click the "Authoresses" tag in the Categories list to the right.
The Spinster’s Tale is jam-packed with numerous plot-lines, backstories, and weddings. Plus a separate short gothic novel is stuck in the middle. There are so many characters, it’s difficult to remember them all.
Have you seen people in social media point out that Regency romances are unrealistic because there weren’t that many eligible young dukes and earls in Regency England? Well, that was the case from the get-go; the novels written at the time featured handsome, eligible lords by the bushel. There are half-a-dozen titled men running around in this novel, all of them in want of a wife, and they all marry girls of humbler birth.
One thing that sets this novel apart is that two of the major protagonists, and one minor, are older ladies. The titular spinster, Mrs. Caroline Herbert, ("Mrs." denotes an older lady, not necessarily a married one) is approaching 50. The kind and charitable Dowager Lady Brumpton has a fun back story where she dresses herself in boy’s clothes and climbs out a window after she’s abducted by a libertine. The minor character Miss Woodley is the impoverished authoress of the novel-within-a-novel Langbridge Fort. “Romance is not my forte,” she tells one of the young heroines, “but I had been told nothing would sell now, but the horrible, the wonderful, and the improbable.”
In addition to centering older females, The Spinster's Tale has other features which might be of interest to academics...