The Odd Women Author:George Gissing "In The Odd Women (Gissing) achieved one of the very few novels in English that can be compared with those of the French naturalists who were his contemporaries" Walter Allen, The English Novel. — Five odd women - women without husbands - are the subject of this powerful novel, graphically set in Victorian London, by a writer whose perceptions a... more »bout people, particularly women, would be remarkable in any age and are extraordinary in the 1890s. The story concerns the choices that five diferent women make or are forced to make, and what those choices imply about men's and women's place in society and relationship to each other.
Alice and Virginia Madden, suddenly left adrift by the death of their improvident father, must take grinding and humiliating "genteel" work. Pretty, vulnerable, and terrified of sharing their fate, their younger sister Monica accepts a proposal of marriage from a man who gives her financial security but drives het to reckless action by his insance jealousy.
Interwoven with their fortunes are Mary Barfoot and Rhoda Nunn, who are dedicating their lives to training young women for independent and useful lives, for emotional as well as economic freedom. Feminine and spirited, they are seeking not to overthrow men, but to free both sexes from everything that distorts or depletes their humanity - including, if necessary, marriage. Into their lives comes Mary's engaging and forceful cousin Everard Barfoot, and as he and Rhoda become locked in an increasing significant and passionate struggle, Rhoda finds out through the refining fire what "love" sometimes means, and what it means to be true to herself.« less