April 29, 2014

Book Review - How to create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to train the Ideal Mate by Wendy Moore

In the eighteenth century, Thomas Day was a radical philosopher poet who rejected the values and social mores of his day. He was rude and unkempt but he inherited a huge fortune and was able to indulge some wild ideas. Rejected by and rejecting society beauties, he sought an unspoilt girl who was physically hardened and stoic, possessed obedience, virtue and practical skills. This was Enlightenment period and his social set included all the fashionable men of literature, science and reason. Aided by his friends, he selected two girls from the Foundling Hospital and set about training up his prospective mate under the guise of apprenticing them to a good career. His friend, Edgeworth, enthusiastically raises his son according to the French philosopher, Rousseau's new child -centred approach, which, when implemented thoroughly turns out a badly behaved unhappy boy, but although somewhat modified, remains a key tenet of today's child-centred approach to education. This fascinating biography of Thomas Day, his friends and his protégés benefits immeasurably from the author's extensive research and understanding of the period. Fashion, love, science, folly, hypocrisy and changing fortunes affect the intrepid cast of characters. True tales are sometimes the most unbelievable! Wendy

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