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Kaethe

Kaethe

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The Tiger in the Well - Philip Pullman My book for work. Of course I like these because of the feminism, but more importantly, because the characters are aware of how exceptional they are, and how lucky. There's no smug superiority in Sally about her freedom, no condescension to other women. Instead there's an awareness of what it costs her to live as she does. Too many contemporary writers give their Victorian characters modern sensibilities and freedoms without a cost. It was much more common for someone to be liberated in one way and strictly conservative in others, as with Annie Oakley, who wore a knee-length skirt with a loose blouse and snug leggings for her act, but considered those new bloomers to be immodest.

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I almost abandoned it. For a bit there Sally is lost and bewildered, friendless and beset, and it was just too harrowing. I'm glad she got a good look at the world around her, but that kind of loss of innocence is always hard. Thank goodness for the orphans providing comic relief.