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Project Hamlet

Reading progress update: I've read 14 out of 190 pages.

The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim

"I sometimes literally ache with envy as I watch the men going about their pleasant work in the sunshine, turning up the luscious damp earth, raking, weeding, watering, planting, cutting the grass, pruning the trees -- not a thing that they do from the first uncovering of the roses in the spring to the November bonfires but fills my soul with longing to be up and doing it too.  A great many things will have to happen, however, before such a state of popular large-mindedness as will allow of my digging without creating a sensation is reached, so I have plenty of time for further grumblings; only I do very much wish that the tongues inhabiting this apparently lonely and deserted countryside would restrict their comments to the sins, if any, committed by the indigenous females (since sins are fair game for comment) and leave their harmless eccentricities alone.  After having driven through vast tracts of forest and heath for hours, and never meeting a soul or seeing a house, it is surprising to be told that on such a day you took such a drive and were at such a spot; yet this has happened to me more than once.  And if even this is watched and noted, with what lightning rapidity would the news spread that I had been seen stalking down the garden path with a hoe over my shoulder and a basket in my hand, and weeding written large on every feature!  Yet I should love to weed."

Women's lives in the 19th century -- working class women were working their fingers to the bone ... whereas women in the nobility weren't even allowed to have a hobby if it involved any level of physical labor.  "A great many things" have happened in the interim indeed; let's hope we never even get near this state of things, ever again ...

 

And I love her asides about her tongue-wagging neighbors ... though I wonder whether she'd still hold to her views about the exposure of perceived "sins" being "fair game" with the state of today's tabloid press.