Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Search - Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages

Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages
Parallel Lives Five Victorian Marriages
Author: Phyllis Rose
In her study of the married couple as the smallest political unit, Phyllis Rose examines the marriages of five Victorian couples -- the Carlyles, Ruskins, Dickenses, Mills, and George Eliot and George Henry Lewes -- to demonstrate the classic strengths and weaknesses of the institution of marriage
ISBN-13: 9780394524320
ISBN-10: 0394524322
Publication Date: 10/12/1983
Pages: 318
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.

3.3 stars, based on 5 ratings
Publisher: Knopf
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages on + 87 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I really couldn't get into this book, to me it reads like a text book but if you have an interest in the politics of the victorian era you might like it.
miss-info avatar reviewed Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages on + 386 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This intellectual book profiles the lives of five unusual couples from the 1800's; Jane Welsh and Thomas Carlyle, Effie Gray and John Ruskin, Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill, Catherine Hogarth and Charles Dickens, George Eliot and George Henry Lewes. Each of the couples has some unusual arrangement, usually regarding sex (or the lack thereof). In fact, there's a lot of talk about sex (and the lack thereof) throughout the entire book, not in a descriptive way, but analyzing the customs of the time. Some knowledge of English writers and their literature may help. The two readers of this household found it entertaining in an oddly twisted sort of way. Be sure to read the notes at the end.
Read All 7 Book Reviews of "Parallel Lives Five Victorian Marriages"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

page-one avatar reviewed Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages on + 24 more book reviews
The author explores five Victorian marriages to show the many ways a man and a woman can chose to be "married."
reviewed Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages on + 1299 more book reviews
The first couple discussed was Jane Welsh and Thomas Carlyle which was probably the most equal marriage according to the author. The tale was title "The Carlyles' Courtship" and I skipped ahead to read his final words about the couple. Interestingly, the marriage seemed to be based on intellectual stimulation. Letters between the two discussed writing. I found the discussion of movies about couple relationship inappropriate for the topic. Kept wondering why she did that.

The second couple is Effie Gray and John Ruskin whose marriage is strange indeed. On their wedding night Ruskin is unable to consummate the marriage. He keeps postponing it. Tied to his parent who want to rule every aspect of their lives, she eventually gets out of the marriage when she proves that she is still a virgin. The author further states that the Carlyle marriage was likely never consummated either because it was a marriage for companionship rather than love.

The third marriage was that of Harriet Tayler and John Stuart Mill, two highly intelligent individuals whose intellectual interests draw them together. Even though Harriet is married to someone else who largely tolerates her friendship with Mill, the marriage eventually breaks up. And, of course, they marry. Much of the writing Mills does is stimulated and edited by Harriet.

The next couple is Charles Dickens and Catherine Hogarth. Early in the marriage they are very happy and enjoy each other and their children. Many years later, he goes through a mid-life crisis and finds that Catherine and he have little in common. Not many women would have been able to keep up with the brilliant Dickens but he blames his unhappiness on his wife. Eventually they separate and maintain separate houses while he engages in a relationship with a much younger woman. His fame is widespread but the public does not approve of his new life.

The final pair is George Eliot (pen name for Marian Evans) and George Henry Lewis, whose happiness lasted throughout their lives. Never married officially, they made a private home removed from the hustle and bustle of society. Their regard for each other led them to encourage and stimulate one another in their writings and became successful. This is probably the most romantic of the pairings that the author discussed in this little book.
reviewed Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages on + 175 more book reviews


Want fewer ads?