Thursday 15 September 2016

Mrs Engels

That feeling of dread as you near the end of your library book…because you just want it to go on and on………
Enter Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea published by Scribe 2015

Now I have zilch interest in Marx and Engels, though some of my dwindling brain cells urge me to recant that statement.

But when I read the opening line of Mrs Engels I was jolted.
“No one understands men better than the women they don’t marry.”

The narrator is Lizzie Burns, of Irish descent and a textile factory worker in Manchester who becomes Engel’s lover.

And when she declares that “love is a bygone idea; centuries worn.”
I know she’s about to debunk all the romantic ideology that has been my daily fodder…
And, frankly, I just can’t wait to read it.

I am not disappointed.

If you asked me, "What is this novel is about???
I’m not sure I could tell you.
Not a lot happens. 
But I got a factionalised insight into the characters of Frederick Engels and Karl Marx that will lodge with me…dwindling brain cells or no.

Set in 1870, political and social changes rumble throughout Europe in the back-story,
But to the fore
And larger than the international canvas
Is the riveting character of Lizzie Burns.

She has been compared with Molly Bloom in Ulysses… (I can’t confess to having read past the first page of Joyce's masterpiece, put off as I am by a book’s bulk.)

But Lizzie is a maelstrom, swirling through Georgian London, leaving disarray and confusion in her wake.

Her advice to a woman in search of a partner might well be that of the famous Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, but put with a bit more verve.

“Odds are the handsome fellow you go spooney on will turn out to be a bad bargain”

And she warns against “fine wits, lookers, rare minds and fancy poets…..”

What matters to Lizzie is “A man with means, a man who knows the value of brass and is easy with it.”

Enter Frederick Engels.

After returning my library book I went out and bought a copy of it.

A must-keep!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm nearly finished it! She is such an amazing character! I wish we knew more about the real person. But then if we did, there would be nothing for a writer of historical fiction to write about!