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The Story of Avis

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

Book Overview: 

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps's novel is set in a New England college town, and focuses on Avis Dobell, a professor's daughter. Avis is a talented painter, and bucks against the constraints placed on women in the 19th century. She wants to pursue a career as an artist and rejects marriage and motherhood, until she meets the charismatic young professor Philip Ostrander. Phelps's novel is a beautifully-written examination of the conflicts between marriage and career for women that is still relevant today.

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Community Reviews

This is the story of a woman who possesses the talent and the discipline to become a great artist, but who loses the opportunity when she finally agrees to marry. The novel is written in such a way that no one is really at fault, her "failure" is simply the way life is...women are, in many ways, pri

For what it’s worth, Phelps’s portrayal of Avis’s hesitation and beliefs surrounding marriage and what it would do to her passions and autonomy were bold for the time and so very real. Even though she does marry and have kids and eventually admit her paintings are better for all those things, the ex

This novel does include some interesting quotes and observations, but overall is rather quirky and abstract. I understand the tradeoffs many women face attempting to juggle family and career. Perhaps as a single male, I'm missing some nuance or perspective in the story?

wow. this was an odd read. at first i was not pleased--the heaviness of its authors' morals and religiosity were a bit... intrusive. i mean, i have read and loved Trollope and Austen and the Brontes and Calderón de la Barca and Benito Pérez Galdós and Greene and Chesterton and many other "religious"

It has taken me ages to finish this book. The style is way too complex, with a paragraph-long sentences and using too many passives. The topic is nice and quite revolutionary for its time, but it did not leave me wanting to read more. I got lost sometimes to the point where I did not know where the

Was thinking of this book last night (I've loaned it out and don't expect to get it back . . . these things haunt me at bedtime) and realized I had not catalogued it. This is a fantastic novel from the late C19 that chronicles how the lead character, Avis, compromises her artistic talent to succumb

I will admit that I decided to read this book because my mother’s first name was Avis. We believe that she was named after the main character. I seem to remember that her father read it and liked the name. My sister read the book when she was in college and I decided that it was time that I read it.

This book is by a little-known bestselling American woman author in the nineteenth century. It is about a woman who feels she has to sacrifice her art (she is a painter) for marriage and children. Her husband ultimately is not financially stable and she ends up facing difficulties. This is similar t

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