Prior to 1858, obtaining a divorce in England was costly and difficult, which meant that it was reserved for the wealthy elite. But that year, a new Court of Matrimonial Causes was established to grant divorces without the great expense of having to win an Act of Parliament. With this new court, husbands and wives could sever their marriages with proof of adultery or abuse.
That same year, Henry Robinson happened to read his wife’s diary, and the confessions written on the pages led him to appeal for a divorce under the new law. Isabella Robinson’s diary created a scandal that thousands of Londoner’s eagerly read in their local newspapers.
“Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace” is a non-fiction work meant to look at Victorian marriage and divorce through this specific case. While it was interesting, I don’t think Isabella Robinson’s case was enough to base an entire book on. It barely covered 200 pages, and in my opinion, the author tried to pad it in order to get that many pages out of it. I would like to have seen a broader take on Victorian marriage and how the Divorce Court of 1858 saw an evolution in marriage and women’s rights.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2012