In a few short pages,” writes Francine Prose in her Introduction, “May Sinclair succeeds in rendering the oppressive weight and strength. This short book charts the life of Harriett Frean, from birth to death. She is born into a well to do Victorian tradesman’s family in a London suburb. Life and Death of Harriett Frean: English literature: The literature of World War I and the interwar period: Olivier: A Life () and Life and Death of Harriett.

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This site uses cookies. Jun 05, Shilpi Mittal rated it really liked it Shelves: Books by May Sinclair.

Life and Death of Harriett Frean by May Sinclair – Reading Guide – : Books

If you read this when old, you’d pray that you won’t remember. Harriett is proud of her self-sacrifice which she believes is the highest love of all but when she falls in love with her best friend’s fiance she is hharriett to question everything she thought she knew. Sinclair is an accomplished novelist, but most of her work is rather puzzlingly out of print.

I really This short novel tells the disturbing tale of a Victorian girl named Harriett Frean and her attempt to live a “morally beautiful” life She would stoop over the cot and lift Harriett up, and her face would be hidden in curls.

I mentioned it the other day as being deathh good companion to Stones in a Landslide — in terms of whole-lives-in-short-books — so, completely coincidentally, you have the opportunity of noting similarities! Who is Harriett Frean?

And it is one of the saddest little books I’ve ever read. The graceful, simple writing wastes no time in making understood Harriett Frean’s upbringing, her idolization of her mother and the desire to emulate a passed down sense of beauty and moral courage.

It also questions whether being moral is still “good” if you take too much pride in your morals and enjoy feeling superior because of hareiett the “right” decision – it all comes down to motive in the end.

Oh, it’s such a frustrating little nothing of a book. Apr 23, Emily rated it really liked it. She was an active suffragist, and member of the Woman Writers’ Suffrage League. It sounds like a fairly harrowing read in terms fraen the female position during this period — like you, books like this make me so grateful for all our foremothers who fought for us to have an education and legal rights and own our own property… I got Bluestockings for Christmas and am really looking forward to reading it!


About interestingliterature A blog dedicated to rooting out the interesting stuff about classic books and authors. No gnashing of teeth.

Life and Death of Harriett Frean

It’s told in succinct, almost plain style, using select episodes to illuminate a whole life. To view it, click here. A small masterpiece, I think, that should be read by everyone to show how far the Western world has come in a little over a hundred years in its treatment of women.

Her mother and father are both very moral, good, upright people who consider themselves liberal intellectuals. Idolising her parents, she learns from childhood to equate love with self-sacrifice, so that when she falls in love with the fiance of her closest friend, there is only one way to confront such an unworthy passion.

Mar 25, Shanu rated it really liked it Shelves: Want to Read saving…. Nov 21, Paul rated it really liked it Shelves: This novel also reminded me a lot of Molly Keane’s Good Behaviour, which also centered around a self-deluding spinster whose life was narrowed and impoverished by too much dependence on parents and too much devotion to a moribund notion of proper and beautiful behavior. It sounds quite interesting.

Existing Sorrowfully to Live Beautifully: Papa was the Pussycat and she was the little mouse in her hole under the bed-clothes. However, instead of improving the lives of those affected, she only succeeds in making herself and the other involved parties miserable.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Vrean your comment here It’s a circus act for the rest of us. We gaze, and wonder and admire and envy from a distance. The story calls into question whether or not doing the moral thing always leads to the greatest happiness for everyone involved and explores the concept that you may be mistaken when you let your actions be dictated by what you think other people want for you.

Life and Death of Harriett Frean | novel by Sinclair |

Sinclair manages to create a really confrontational novel while keeping harritt subtle enough to get it published and interesting enough to attract mainstream success at least at that time.


The saddest aspect of her life is that she may as well never have existed; on her death, she simply fades away into oblivion, with no mark of her long life left behind to be remembered by. Retrieved 7 March But her desire to please did not always end in a happy note, as one of the characters bluntly pointed out to her.

Auden Poems Everyone Should Read. Her actions destroy the lives of herself, her best friend, and the man she loves.

But the novel has quite contemporary repercussion. Pussycat, Pussycat, what did you there? I love the way in which Harriett is followed from her early childhood until her last days. Nowadays, the protagonist seems almost mythologically empty, unable and unwilling to ever form any personality, goals, or really any relationship to the world whatsoever beyond a veneration of her father and the love she heroically destroyingly denied herself.

Like Us On Facebook. Oh, what the hell. Although the story is sad, and has a very specific point to make about how Harriet’s typically stifling upper middle class Victorian upbringing shapes her life, the fine spareness of the writing keeps the book from being heavy-handed and kept me turning the pages.

Feb 27, Erin rated it really liked it Shelves: That was the kiss-me-to-sleep kiss.

Interesting Literature

However, the book is also a more modernistic piece in that Harriett almost becomes insane due to the path her life takes a mundane one and questions her belief in very outdated Victorian values such as the family and narriett behaviour’. As a woman, she chose to let go of the man she loved to protect her best friend.

Later, after about an hour of nonstop reading, Harriet Frean is already 68 years old, dying of the same cancer which killed her mother years before.