Clutching My Pearls is about Jane Austen and the times she lived in. Those who think we should speak of the past only to condemn it, but still want to rescue Jane Austen from the dustbin of history, have a bit of a dilemma on their hands. She wasn't a radical. Click here for the introduction to this blog.
Many people might pass over The Vicar of Wrexhill because its once-controversial subject matter--"High church" Anglicanism versus evangelism--would be of little interest in a post-Christian age. However, the story still offers snarky humour, heroines in peril, a cantankerous old married couple, and romance. The dialogue is sometimes stilted--it's hard to believe that 17-year-old girls actually speak with such complex sentences, but then I feel that way about Marianne Dashwood as well.
I liked the way Mrs. Trollope--like Jane Austen in Mansfield Park--designed her characters to come into conflict because of their differing personalities and world views. But for me, the biggest payoff was realizing I was reading about a 19th century moral panic, with so many parallels to the debates preoccupying society in our own times, specifically in the way people behaved--intimidating one another, condemning one another, freezing people out. Buckle up for a slow-motion train wreck in which you're not sure whether the characters are heading for ultimate tragedy or a happy ending...