Read The Half Sisters by Geraldine Jewsbury Online


This radical novel contrasts the lives of two women in Victorian England. The illegitimate Bianca contends with poverty and prejudice to attain eminence and respectability as an actress. Her legitimate half sister, Alice, finds herself unhappily married, trapped in the dreary and philistine existence endured by numerous middle-class wives of her time. Each has to confrontThis radical novel contrasts the lives of two women in Victorian England. The illegitimate Bianca contends with poverty and prejudice to attain eminence and respectability as an actress. Her legitimate half sister, Alice, finds herself unhappily married, trapped in the dreary and philistine existence endured by numerous middle-class wives of her time. Each has to confront the implications of passion in a woman's life, with surprising results that challenged contemporary orthodoxy. Now back in print for the first time in over a century, this poignant work addresses the damaging effects of conventional Victorian beliefs about women....

Title : The Half Sisters
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780192837578
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 448 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Half Sisters Reviews

  • Petra
    2019-05-01 20:06

    Geraldine Jewsbury seems to have been ahead of her times. In this novel, she addresses the lack of women's education, the lack of "respectable" jobs for women and looks at the need for more in their lives than needlepoint, singing and being weak reflections of their husbands. She argues that a woman can be self-reliant, smart, capable and successful by working at something she loves to do and dealing with her own finances & situation. Radical thinking in 1848. This is an enjoyable story to read. It does use "coincidence" and "luck" a little bit but in general, the contrasting story of the 2 half-sisters, Alice and Bianca, is an interesting look at expectations, upbringing and conformity. Not perfect, with a bit of sermonizing in the middle, and a weak ending and yet a very enjoyable read.

  • Katie Lumsden
    2019-05-18 18:54

    Absolutely brilliant. A thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating read - I love the way the different lives of these two half-sisters are contrasted with each other, and the juxtaposition of their lives as Victorian women says so many great things about gender, class, morality, and personal drive. It's just a brilliant book, very underrated, and one I highly highly recommend!

  • Kate Howe
    2019-05-07 00:02

    Absolutely delightful and thought provoking.

  • Evelina A.
    2019-05-03 00:10

    I think The Half Sisters holds a place with anything that Elizabeth Gaskell or Charlotte Bronte have written, reflecting a deep concern with the plight of women and girls and the limitations imposed by a society that holds them to incredibly lofty standards they do not dare deviate from, because the resulting censure is so damaging. Jewsbury's message is clear and urgently expressed within the framework of her story about half-sisters from diverse backgrounds that struggle within society's conventions. Some of the elements of frustration within Jewsbury's writing echo back to Jane Austen: young women tailored for the marriage market; hardly any means of "respectable" employment; women often lacking independent wealth, etc. But Jewsbury goes deeper into attacking the complete lack of practical education which she feels deliberately warps the spirit of young female individuals and keeps them subservient, docile, perpetual children. She was definitely ahead of her time as a strong, outspoken advocate for women's rights. Overall, the best Victorian novel I've read that takes a deep, incisive look at women (and men) in mid-19th century England.

  • Margaret
    2019-05-07 20:48

    The Half Sisters is an unusual, radical novel of 1848 which contrasts the lives of two half-sisters in Victorian England. Half-Italian, illegitimate Bianca fights poverty by entering into a career on the stage, where she achieves fame, while her sister Alice marries respectably and is trapped in a stultifying existence which deadens her latent intellectual talents. Through the lives of her two heroines, Jewsbury emphasizes women's need for something real to do. Bianca says late in the book, "I have had work to do, and have done it. I have had a purpose, and have endeavoured to work it out," while Alice's life is blighted by her lack of purpose. Occasionally the narrative bogs down in excessive sermonizing, but Jewsbury's fierce energy keeps it going. Although the ending is disappointingly timid, The Half Sisters is full of life and interesting ideas and characters, well worth reading for those who are interested in lesser-known Victorian novels and in the concept of Victorian womanhood.

  • Essannia Dahi
    2019-05-13 21:57

    3,5 rounded to 4Highly enjoybale and thought provoking. Some passages can be dull but overall I liked it very much.You can't help but root for Bianca for the very beginning and to feel sorry for Alice. So much comtrast in personality and destiny. I wonder how this book was received by the rigid victorian society.

  • Daniela
    2019-05-05 20:01

    I really liked how the role of women duribg the mid 19th century was portrayed in my last read for Victober.

  • Perry Whitford
    2019-05-18 19:57

    Born of the same father but unaware of each others existence, Alice Helmsby is brought up in idle English wealth, Bianca Pazzi in rustic Italian poverty.Alice is destined to be married into a good family and want nothing more than to be a supportive wife, a docility which proves fatal to her 'morbid conscientiousness, which made her painfully anxious to do right, without ever feeling satisfied with any of her own actions'.Bianca has to make her own way in the world, which she does as an actress, a profession frowned upon in the mid-19th century. But it offers her an outlet for her energies and way to develop herself. As she observes:"I should have found no opening for my energies in the smoothly-compacted surface of female existence."Conrad Percy, a generally good-natured young man who becomes a sort of long-distance patron to Bianca as she starts her stage career from the bottom, will eventually cause pain to both half sisters.Alice is made weak and nervous by the ennui which results from her life as a pampered daughter and respectable wife, whereas Bianca, born into a life of vagabondage, has the strength and occupation required to survive disappointment.Within a couple of pages of The half Sisters you know you're in good, wise hands, with that composed and refined sensibility that can only be found in the very best Victorian writers.The author herself is a constant presence, commentating throughout with much perspicacity in elegantly written observations, most notably about the unfulfilled nature of women's role in society, personified by Alice. Written a decade before George Elliot truly broke the mould, Jewsbury clearly had a similar intention, to shatter what Lord Melton, an admirer of Bianca, denigrates as "rose-coloured imitation-virtue" in the contemporary novel.The plotting also offered up one or two surprises for a novel of it's time. Sure, coincidence played a part, but at one stage Jewsbury introduced a rich father who opposes a match and I thought, "Here we go, the remaining course of the story is set," only to kill him off a few chapters later!jewsbury lived a fairly unconventional life herself, having relationships with both men and women, including the actress Charlotte Cushman.

  • Catherine Siemann
    2019-05-14 03:07

    I'd heard of Jewsbury as a friend of Jane Carlyle's, and perhaps some of the other eminent Victorians, and picked up her novel at some point because it was unusual to run across it. It's refreshing to see a Victorian novel that privileges a heroine who actually does something with her life, and doesn't condemn her for a) being on the stage, b) being illegitimate, and c) being the daughter of an Italian woman and a British man. Unfortunately, Bianca's unknowing half-sister, the legitimate Alice, is set up as the exemplar of what happens when women have no real purpose in life: her husband, who genuinely loves her, is completely wrapped up in his work and with no children and no other interests, Alice's life is a lonely void. Despite the novel's feminism, there are some strange assumptions about women, and a few of the characters are too good to be true -- but it is a Victorian novel, after all, and it does some interesting things.