I am currently reading The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, and I could not feel more sorry for all of the women in the story. Like so many women of the past, their fortunes, livelihood and the well-being of their family depended solely upon their marriage.
For most of human history the occupations available to women were far and few between. On top of which, the working conditions of those few jobs were not enviable. We’re talking maids, governesses, seamstresses, and prostitutes. No, thank you! Although, I do appreciate novels like Luxe and wonderful historic dramas like Downton Abbey which show both the excess of the upper class and the live of the help which make all the extravagance possible.
This is a common theme to one of my favorite author’s writings, Jane Austen. her characters are constantly running up against the problem of marrying well or being happy in marriage, but (because they are fictitious) they often get both. I doubt many real women of the time were so blessed. (For more on this topic, read: Pride & Prejudice Hypertext)
While I am currently frustrated with my career ambitions, I am grateful that I depend wholly upon myself and not the affections of some well-to-do man. (Honestly, myself and my loving family.) Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t say no to a guy just because he is financially secure, but at least I don’t have to go out of my way to look for that. I am very grateful that I live in an era when I can make a living on my own.
PS – Though I’m a little less than halfway through The Luxe, I am enjoying it very much. So far, I’d recommend it to a friend. Also, do yourself a favor and watch Downton Abbey. It is a wonderfully written series, and both my mother and myself eagerly await the second season.