Fair Exchange by Michele Roberts
Michele Roberts' ninth novel manipulates episodes from the lives of the 18th-century pioneer of women's rights, Mary Wollstonecraft, and her contemporary, William Wordsworth. Both are known to have had secret affairs in Paris during the French Revolution, and Roberts uses these 'indiscretions' as the backbone for an historical romance with a feminist agenda. She places her story in rural France in the early 1800s. Louise, a peasant woman, fearing she is about to die, summons her priest; she has a secret to confess. And so the novel begins. We are taken back to 1780, when Jemima Boote arrives at Mary Wollstonecraft's school in London. When Mary departs for revolutionary Paris, Jemima follows. Six months later, pregnant and defiantly in love, she retreats to a tiny village where she meets another mother-to-be, Annette, who is recovering from her infatuation with a young English poet, William. But it is Louise who emerges as the real heroine; the servant's rituals of food ... read more
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