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GirlGenius Suggests -- East Lynne

Updated on December 3, 2008

East Lynne -- A Charming Book from 1860

Hello Everyone,

Here I am again with another book suggestion from the glorious 1800's. EAST LYNNE was a huge best-seller in its day, causing a lot of controversy. This story has been performed as a play in a theater many many times since it was first published.

The author, Ellen Wood, went on to write other novels and short stories. EAST LYNNE is her best known work. Back in her day, it was still rather new to have a woman who made her living as a successful writer. She brings a deep awareness of the emotions of her characters.

It's a great story, but one that might not be suitable for high school students, since the main character leaves her husband and runs off with another man. She pays a great price for this, and suffers a lot. She has a child out of wedlock, too. (Although she desperately tries to get the baby's father to marry her before she gives birth).

What makes this story so interesting is how the characters find the balance between being "polite" and "telling the truth". This is something we all face each day, to a greater or lesser degree. Yes, the main character (Lady Isabel) does something "wrong" by leaving her husband, but didn't her sister-in-law make life in that house absolutely miserable? And why didn't her husband tell her the truth about all those secret meetings with his beautiful new client?

Some people claim that this story has a plot-line that is "contrived" or "far-fetched", but I don't think so. Life (or destiny or karma) has a way of balancing everything out in the end. I'll admit the story is rather dramatic, but that is why it was so popular for so long.

This book is beautifully written and will cause many interesting discussions! Are there sins we simply cannot forgive? How much are others to blame for the rash actions that some people feel forced to take? And most importantly, what can I do in my own life to become a better person -- to not judge others until I know the full truth?

EAST LYNNE shows the importance of not taking life at face value. It takes courage to tell the truth, and to seek the truth. Making hasty decisions based on what "appears to be real" will always lead to regrets.

Dealing With Difficult Situations

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Ellen Wood, the author (aka Mrs. Henry Wood)

A charming lady!
A charming lady!


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