Review: Fair to Look Upon by Mary Belle Freeley

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Who’s ready to catch up on a bunch of reviews! I’ll be posting more of the ones I’ve been reading this year in the next couple weeks but for ALL my reviews (since this will just be a selection), you can check out my Goodreads. Already 2 books away from my yearly goal (though that may change by the time this post goes live)!

Speaking of challenges, this book helped me complete the alphabet challenge last year when I realized in the last week of 2017 that I hadn’t read a book whose title started with F! And so, finally, here is that review 🙂

Fair to Look Upon by Mary Belle Freeley
Genre: Humour

I was about to be married. My numerous charms and attractions had won the affections of a young man who was equally charming with myself. We were sitting on a luxurious divan and he held my milk-white hand in his. I do not make that statement as a startling announcement of an unusual occurrence, but simply as a matter of fact. We had been conversing about the culinary and domestic arrangements of our future home when matrimony had made us “one flesh; ” or, to use English, we had been wondering what under the canopy a good cooking stove would cost, when he asked suddenly and irrelevantly, “And you will love me, always?”

Get it from Project Gutenberg!

That blurb above is actually the first paragraph of the book. I already liked the MC from the second line and since this book was available on Project Gutenberg, under 100 pages, and I had less than a week to read it to finish off the challenge, I went for it!

The MC is very vain, which this excerpt gives you a sense of, but I found her very easy to like. She’s funny, incredibly sarcastic, and stubborn, and when her fiancé orders her to study the Bible because she tells him she won’t always obey him, she sets out to put him in his place.

“A careful perusal of my Bible convinces me that the “holy women of old,” as Peter dubs them, were all afflicted with a chronic determination to have their own way — and they had it.” (8)

The rest of the book is organized into different Bible stories as the MC describes each story to us, arguing that the women in these stories have never been obedient and it’s only the spinning of the stories by subsequent tellers that makes them appear so.

Yet Peter … holds Sarah up as a bright and shining example for us to follow … But we won’t lay this up against Peter, for it is a telling fact (and shows the predicament he was in) that he had to go back nearly two thousand years to find an obedient woman. There were evidently none in his day, but as he wished to make his teaching effective and submit some proof to clinch his argument, he went back to Sarah and said, “even as Sarah obeyed Abraham,” which shows he had never gotten at the real facts in the lovely Sarah’s career, or else was misrepresenting Sarah to carry his point in favor of the men.” (8)

I was a little surprised with how outspoken in support of women the author was given the time period she was writing in, but pleasantly so. She’s not shy about sharing her opinions on this matter and that comes out even more emphatically in her character’s voice.

“Yet to Eve belongs the honor of never having obeyed any one — when it interfered with progress, advancement and intelligence — neither God, angels nor men.

The women of the nineteenth century make a profound salaam of admiration and respect to Eve, in whom they recognize the first courageous, undaunted pioneer woman of the world.” (6)

I didn’t know all of the Bible stories really well so I couldn’t really compare her arguments to the more traditional telling of these stories. The MC describes them in a lot of detail but always with her own flair so it’d be interesting to come to this book with more background knowledge.

While the stories were fun, it felt a little too sacrilegious at times and she used a lot of descriptions of ‘white hands’ and ‘white faces’ for stories set in the Middle East and Egypt, though perhaps this is a sign of the times. Still, the MC was quite funny in her obstinance and I loved seeing her get her way.

I wish I could find out more about this author but this book is the only thing that comes up in searches about her, so if you’ve got any leads, please send them my way! But for now, no ‘about the author’ as yet.

More reviews are on the way hopefully! I’ve still got to write my reviews for all the #JABBR Jane Austen reads last year but I think those will end up being quick notes on Goodreads.

And since I’m using May as a flashback month,
what was your favourite read of 2017?




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