In Which Deb Falls Into Victoriana


What Our Heroine Does While She Can’t Do Much…Or, The Powerful Impact of Chance.

OK, enough of that. The point is, I’ve become somewhat immersed in the Victorian era, about which I know nothing. It all started with—this is embarrassing—A Victorian Dollhouse sticker book. Really.

The “rooms” in the book are evocative of another time, but the stickers, well, they’re just kind of dumb. So I cut up a couple of cheap picture books to make my own house and found some Victorian paper dolls to inhabit it.

At the same time, I started reading some Victorian classics, and was surprised to find how similar that era was to our own. Just as technology has transformed our world, industrialization created a new economy, increased the gap between rich and poor, and upset the old social order. For instance:

  • The protagonist in Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, could double for Bernie Madoff.
  • In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte (I didn’t even know there was a third Bronte sister) tackles issues of domestic abuse and gender roles.
  • In North and SouthElizabeth Gaskell presents cogent arguments for the engines of commerce on the one hand, and the rights of workers on the other.

Oh yeah, and they’re great stories, too.

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