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Olive

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Book Overview: 

Inspired by Jane Eyre, Dinah Maria Craik's novel, Olive, was one of the first to feature a disabled central character. 'Slightly deformed' from birth, Olive believes that she will never be able to marry like other women, so she devotes her life to her art, her mother, and above all, her religion. It takes a dark secret from the past and a new, fascinating acquaintance, to make her realize what her life could be.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Your husband!" repeated Bob, mischievously. "Don't be too sure of getting one at all. What do you think I overheard those girls there say? That you looked just like an old maid; and, indeed, no one would ever care to marry you, because you were"—

Here Lyle, blushing crimson, stopped his brother's mouth with his little hand; whereat Bob flew into such a passion, that he quite forgot Olive, and all he was about to say, in the excitement of a pugilistic combat with his unlucky cadet In the midst of which the two belligerents—poor, untaught, motherless lads—were hurried off to bed.

Their companionship lost, Olive was left very much to her own devices for amusement. Some few young people that she knew came and talked to her for a little while, but they all went back to their singing, dancing, or flirting; and Olive, who seemed to have no gift nor share in either, was left alone. She did not feel this much at first, being occupied in her . . . Read More

Community Reviews

You're going to want to give up on this book. Don't.
Everything turns out okay in the end, but it is a long way there; it's not a woman's weepy; it's genuine tragedy and then redemption.
Here's a good quotation for a t-shirt:
"Alas! there is a madness worse than disease, a voluntary madness, by which a

What an amazing read! In my journey through Victorian literature, there is no novel I liked so well, excepting Jane Eyre.

This novel traces the poignant life of a young woman who was born with a deformity, a slight hunchback. Her parents recoiled from her at birth, thinking her deformity a punishmen

I thoroughly loved it. It's a very character driven book that benefits from being set over a longer period of time, displaying character change as well as change of opinion about characters in a fascinating way. I couldn't read about these people without them evoking some feeling in me and I was thi

I chose to read this Victorian novel because it was recommended to me and because I'd heard it was some sort of retelling of Jane Eyre, so it fitted my Brontë mania project. Two stones, one bird (poor bird).

And yes, once I reached the end, I saw all the parallels : the plain heroin, the older love i


I have the hardest time reviewing books that surprise me by being 5-star reads.
It might be easier to discuss my reading experience, than the content of the book. I felt it was a bit slow at the start, maybe because I've become so familiar with common "motifs" in Victorian literature. I felt I was o

Did you read Jane Eyre and think that what it really needed was long, tedious, swathes of Christian piety riddled with fallacies and bracketed by highly regressive gender roles? Then Olive may be the book you did not even know you needed in your life. Everyone else, though, is likely to be bored and

I have conflicted feelings over this novel. There are parts if it I really enjoyed and parts I really did not. It is VERY Victorian and melodramatic, with fainting ladies and people almost dying from emotions. I didn't mind those details so much as I did the author's blatant moralizing tangents. Yet

I thoroughly enjoyed this - a wonderful, fascinating, enjoyable, tender novel, dealing with some really important themes and some that can be a little underrepresented in Victorian literature. I can't wait to read more by Dinah Mulock Craik, and would highly recommend this one.

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