Novel 008: Margaret Oliphant, Phoebe Junior (1876)

William Logsdall, An Early VIctorian

William Logsdall, An Early VIctorian


A genteel young woman manages the social difficulties of her residence with her tradesman grandfather.

This is the sequel to Oliphant's Salem Chapel, recommended last week.  It's a memorable representation of external social conflict, internal moral conflict, and the relation between them

It is “fuller than usual” of Oliphant’s “special powers,--her keen insight into a variety of feminine character--the able bourgeoise--her shrewd observation of English middle-class life, and her restrained, satirical humour.  It betrays, too, what we had scarcely expected to find, a capacity for depicting scenes of almost tragical emotion without failure, and without...melodrama.”  Spectator, June 17, 1876

Oliphant "a “finds an easy amusement in bringing together by the ears men of different religious creeds and professions, and subduing them to uniformity by their weaknesses... Even the mischief-makers and villains essential to the story are not so much worse than their neighbours as more uncomfortable to themselves and to the people about them.”  Saturday Review, July 22, 1876

Phoebe “one of the finest and most finished portraits ever drawn by Mrs. Oliphant...There is something exceedingly subtle about this lady’s female characters.” Contemporary Review, March 1877

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