Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 ushered in a new era for women and their place at all levels of British society. Our three heroines, Diana Sommerville, the Honorable Fenella Grantley, and Petra Rutherford, privileged young women in their early twenties, emerge from the constraints of the previous era already benefitting from the many small political reforms that had been made by Parliament during Victoria’s reign.
The question of women’s suffrage was the dominant political issue of the time. Despite the fact that many aristocratic gentlemen relied on their wives to stand at their sides while they canvassed for parliamentary votes, to support and fight for their candidacies, to court the people of influence to advance a political position and to remain the smiling hostess at endless political dinners, the idea of their helpmeet actually voting herself remained unthinkable.
Diana, Fenella and Petra’s close friendship grew from the tedious years they spent at an academy for young ladies in Hampstead. The curriculum was designed to turn the daughters of the gentry into debutantes with one ambition, to find a suitable husband during their first Season after their presentation at court. But the three young women share a streak of rebellion that their friendship fosters. They are sufficiently unconventional to draw a degree of disapproval from society’s matrons, but they’re also skilled at skating on thin ice and manage, with each other’s help, to avoid causing any out and out scandals. Continue reading “On the Brink by Jane Feather”