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Online text of The Clever Woman of the Family

Click here to reach the latest version of The Clever Woman of the Family from Gutenberg 
(Many thanks to Sandra Laythorpe and others)

The Clever Woman of the Family on paper

Broadview Press republished this book in an edition by Clare A. Simmons (September 2001) .
Click here to see the publisher's information sheet including contents list.

You can find a review of Clare Simmons' edition by Mary Summers here 
(page 215).

The Clever Woman of the Family (1865) Short summary Text for this summary kindly provided by Celia Bass

The time of the novel is approximately the 1860’s; the place, Avonmouth, a sea-side resort; the unlikely heroine, Rachel Curtis, pedant, frustrated social reformer, self-styled old maid. The plot charts the stages of her downfall from a position of confident intellectual superiority to humble acceptance of her limitations both as a thinker and as a philanthropist. The method used by Charlotte Yonge to reveal the absurdity and danger of her assumptions is dramatic, usually comic, irony.

Through her cousin, the gentle, recently widowed Fanny Temple, whose arrival in Avonmouth initiates the action, Rachel meets a number of people who challenge her ideas. They shake her unwarranted confidence in her own judgment but rescue her from the consequences of her folly. Ironically, Rachel has patronised, snubbed or suspected every one of them . Yet she admires and trusts the chance-met, sinister Mauleverer. He takes advantage of her desire to help the young lacemakers of the town, with disastrous consequences for them and for her. Yet the novel ends on a cheerful note with two weddings, plus the revelation that it is not Rachel but the poor cripple, Ermine Williams, sister  of the Temples’ governess, who is the true ‘Clever Woman’ of the title.

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The Clever Woman of the Family (1865) Full summary Text for this summary kindly provided by Celia Bass

Rachel Curtis is the ‘clever woman’ of the title. She is an unlikely heroine: a solemn pedant and would-be social reformer, a misfit in the staid society of the sea-side town where she has reigned as intellectual queen for most of her twenty-five years, to the mingled admiration and irritation of her neighbours, her timid mother, and her sensible, conventional sister, Grace.

The first challenge to her powers comes with the arrival of her cousin, the gentle, recently widowed Fanny Temple together, with her many charming but undisciplined children, whom Rachel undertakes to educate - with no success whatsoever. Fanny finds a governess. The confrontation between Rachel and the defiant boys and their no less defiant mother is the first of many encounters in which Rachel, to the reader’s amusement, realises her limitations too late. Her discomfiture is made the more absurd by her jealous, ill-founded suspicions of Fanny’s friend and trusted adviser, Colonel Colin Keith, formerly aide de camp to Fanny’s husband, General Temple. She is equally suspicious of another of Fanny’s entourage, Captain Alexander Keith, whom she despises as a ‘carpet knight’. He is a V.C.

The ironies are compounded when Rachel, egged on by Alexander Keith’s sister, the charming, disingenuous Bessie, puts her trust in a chance-met stranger, the sinister Mr Mauleverer. He encourages her to put her theories of social reform into practice by establishing a school to improve the lot of the child lace-workers of the town, with disastrous consequences.

In counterpoint to the tragi-comic vicissitudes of Rachel is a subplot concerning the thwarted love of Colonel Keith and the governess’ sister, Ermine Williams. Ermine is crippled, poor, confined for much of the time to one small room. However, she is not the victim that she seems. She is, in fact, the true ‘clever woman’, as the reader - but not Rachel - soon realises.

The two plots are gradually brought together as Rachel learns, partly from her own mistakes, partly from the advice and good example of others, that though she is less clever than she thought, she is much more loveable.

In consequence, despite two deaths and a nightmare trial, the novel ends happily.



çeviride özeti çıkıyor :)

3 2 3

This is a story of 19_, the year that the schools did not open on time, the year that plague descended and caught us as terrified and as defenseless as though we were inhabitants in some medieval city faced with a new and terrible sickness.
I was a child at that time. My friends and I did not understand. We asked questions but the grown-ups were as confused and as frightened as ourselves. ”It’s infantile paralysis” they told us. “It kills you or else it leaves you crippled forever. Don’t go too close to anybody and don’t touch anything that a strange child has handled”.
Fear held us so completely that we forgot how to laugh or to play. I can remember lying in bed at night waiting for the disease to strike at me. I had no idea what form it might take and lay very quietly praying that when next I wished to move my legs or arms I would be able to do so as I had always done in the past.
There was among us, however, who had no fear of the terrible plague. That girl was Irene Crane. In my mind’s eye I can still see her as she was back there in those difficult days. She was a yellow-haired child with a happy ring to her laughter and the greatest capacity for fun of anyone I’ve ever known. She was the school beauty, popular with teachers and pupils alike and she was not the most intelligent of our group that was easily forgiven for one does not expect to find genius in a flower.
Irene had a sister who was a year younger. Her mother called her Caroline, but outside the house she was known simply as Irene’s sister. It was natural for her to be Irene’s sister just as it was natural for us to be a nameless group of girls known as Irene’s friends.

Bu 1900’lerde ; okulların zamanında açılmadığı, vebanın musallat olduğu ve sanki yeni ve korkunç bir salgınla karşılaşmış ortaçağ şehirlerinin sakinleriymişiz gibi bizi korkmuş ve savunmasız olarak yakaladığı bir yılın hikayesi.
Ben o zamanlar çocuktum. Arkadaşlarım ve ben anlamamıştık. Sorular soruyorduk fakat büyüklerimiz de bizim kadar korkmuş ve şaşkındılar. Bize “bu çocuk felci sizi ya öldürür ya da sizi sonsuza kadar sakat bırakır. Sakın her hangi ibir yabancıya yaklaşmayın ve yabancı bir çocuğun kullandığı herhangi bir şeye dokunmayın” diyorlardı.
Korku tamamen bizi sarmıştı ki gülmeyi ve oyun oynamayı unutmuştuk. Geceleri yatağımda yattığımı ve hastalığın beni yakalamasını beklediğimi hatırlayabiliyorum. Ne şekilde olacağı hakkında hiç bir fikrim yoktu ve sessizce yatıp bir daha ne zaman kollarımı ve ayaklarımı hareket ettiriyor olabileceğimi dileyerek geçmişte her zaman yaptığım gibi dua ediyordum.
Bununla beraber, aramızda bu berbat vebadan korkmayan bir kişi vardı. O kız İrene Crane’ndi. Onun tekrar o zorlu günlerdeki halini hayal edebiliyorum. Gülüşündeki o mutlu izlenimiyle sarı saçlı bir çocuktu ve tanıdığım herkesi eğlendirebilecek en büyük yetenekti. Okulun güzeliydi ve öğrenciler gibi öğretmenler arasında da popülerdi ve grubumuzun en zekisi olmasaydı bile bu kolayca affedilebilirdi zira insan çiçekte zeka bulmayı beklemez.
İrene’nin kendisinden bir yaş küçük bir kız kardeşi vardı. Annesi ona Caroline derdi, ancak evin dışında kısaca İrene’nin kardeşi olarak bilinirdi. Bizim isimsiz kız grubunun İrene’nin arkadaşları olarak bilinmemizin doğal olduğu gibi onun için de İrene’nin kardeşi olmak doğaldı.