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The Doctor's Wife

M. E. Braddon

Book Overview: 

The heroine, Isabel Sleaford, was driven early in her childhood to bury herself in, and develop her sense of self through, romantic novels and poetry. She is thus ill-adapted to the conventional, provincial structures and strictures laid upon her when she marries the very good and adoring, but also boring and unimaginative, Dr. George Gilbert. Isabel forms friendships with men (including her husband's best friend) who are more amenable to her romantic inclinations, and inevitably encounters social condemnation as a result. The book shows how life’s tragedies and the world’s cruel judgments shape Isabel, as she grows more mature, somewhat embittered, but also – true to her nature – beautifully resilient.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .e strolling in his grove, and should see her and rescue her from death by drowning, or a mad bull, or something of that sort, and thereupon fall in love with her? Nothing was more life-like or likely, according to Izzie's experience of three-volume novels. Unhappily she discovered from Mr. Raymond that Lord Hurstonleigh was an elderly married man, and was, moreover, resident in the south of France; so that bright dream was speedily shattered. But there is no point of the compass from which a hero may not come. There was hope yet; there was hope that this bright spring-day might not close as so many days had closed upon the same dull record, the same empty page.

Mr. Raymond was in his highest spirits to-day. He liked to be with young people, and was younger than the youngest of them in his fresh enjoyment of all that is bright and beautiful upon earth. He devoted himself chiefly to the society of his orphan prot. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Braddon was the queen of Victorian sensation novels, like Lady Audley's Secret; although the heroine falls in love with a man who's not her husband, The Doctor's Wife isn't really a sensation novel. Braddon was clearly trying to transcend her genre (and rewrite Madame Bovary) in this story of Isa...more

This novel by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, written in 1864, is an interesting novel, or actually an interesting group of novels. One of its foundations and sources is Madame Bovary, and yet the depth of passion in The Doctor's Wife is not as interesting or intense. Another foundation is Sensation lite...more

So many people complain that books from this era are long. I think books today are short and leave out the most interesting bits. Compared to this, Madame Bovary comes out as the equivalent of 'They married, and then they were run over by a truck. ' This is an imitation of that work, by someone w...more

This book was really uniquely done. The beginning was pretty slow as you meet different characters and the story is set up. It starts with a young doctor but after he is married the point of view is switched to his young beautiful and childlike wife whose obsession with literary figures keeps her...more

I enjoyed reading this book, but it was not a page turner or shocking in its content like Lady Audley`s Secret, which I rated 5 stars. An enjoyable story nontheless.

I'm not quite sure how to evaluate this novel because my thoughts on it are all over the place. When I started to read it, I really enjoyed Braddon's style of writing. However, it quickly become repetitive. I'm not only referring to the Victorian tropes that she uses, as well as the flat, uninter...more

I know it's detrimental to my character to read these sentimental novels, but I can't help it- they're just so good!

I'm a big fan of Victorian Sensation fiction of which Elizabeth Braddon is one of the leading lights. Sadly (for me) this was her one attempt at writing a literary novel. It's a sympathetic portrait of an ill-conceived marriage (EB deliberately borrows the initial premise from Mme Bovary but take...more

The Doctor's Wife was written in 1864 by MEB, 8 years after Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary. The storyline have many similar themes but The Doctor's Wife is a great read in its own right. There are many differences between the two women in these different stories that shows it is not just a copy...more

Isabel Sleaford is a pretty girl with a head full of the idealized dreams culled from literature and the grandest models of romance, personified in Edith Dombey and Lord Byron: 'She wanted her life to be like her books; she wanted to be a heroine,—unhappy perhaps, and dying early'.

George Gilbert...more

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