So, Stephen.. She's born sometime in the late 18-somethings to well off parents, they call her Stephen because her parents have wanted and somewhat expected a boy child for about 10 years, and her father wants to stick with the name they chose. As it turns out, they did pretty much get a boy. As a child stephen likes to pretend she's Nelson, fancies herself in love with the housemaid, throws her dolls away, wears trousers and rides astride her horse like a boy.
Her father is very supportive, and while he's alive she's somewhat protected by him from other peoples opinions and morals. On the other hand, her mother thinks she's very strange and is afraid to be close to her.
Anyway, Stephen grows up, falls in love, suffers tragedies, etce etce. I'll stay away from anything close to a spoiler.
I'm not sure exactly what I expected from this book, but it didn't quite play out like I thought it would.
Firstly, I wasn't even sure after a while that it really was about a lesbian, I mean, Stephen is almost a transexual, when she's young she's thinks she's a boy, and wants to be a boy, and when she's older she's constantly comparing herself with men, in regards to her behaviour, her desires and her social standing. Maybe this is about feminism and women's rights, but I'm not so sure.
The book does seem to give a strange view of lesbianism, of Stephen, and others like her, what I'd call the butch ones, as sort of the only real kind of lesbians. And then the girls that fall in love with them, who seem to be feminine, and swing both ways, they're attracted to men, and to people like stephen. It's a bit of a cliche, and I never really thought of lesbianism that way myself, is this the book that started the cliche of lesbians being all manly? It's kind of odd.
I don't know why Stephen has the view that she can't give a woman a proper relationship, it's probably partly because I can't put myself into the mindset of that era's values and morals, etc. But for some reason she's such a self imposed martyr, she thinks she's wrong, thats the problem, she thinks she's unatural. She begs for the right to live as she is, but she is still ashamed of what she is.
Somehow, I think I was expecting a happily ever after, you know, one woman's triumph against society to live as a lesbian and be happy. But then again, if it was like that, it probably wouldn't have had the impact it did, as a depressive wail against society and 'normal' values.
On the whole, a good book, none the less important for my failing to agree with the character's ideas and values.