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Shackles Madge Macbeth

Shackles

Madge Macbeth

Published January 17th 2006
ISBN : 9781896133584
Paperback
367 pages
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 About the Book 

Freedom! Naomi Lennox only wants freedom to write and to escape her suave, smooth (he quotes Shakespeare and is quite eloquent) but manipulative and demanding husband, Arnold. Arnold seems like a nice guy on the surface, but is actually a bit of a tyrant and a moss-back when it comes to his essentialist views of women and men. But Naomi (and the reader) has a number of surprises that obstruct her road to freedom in this seemingly-anti-marriage novel (1926) by Madge Macbeth, a good, prolific writer from Ottawa who is unfairly forgotten nowadays.I found this book really interesting. Loads of dialogue and debate which I prefer to description. I finished it in a few days. It is full of unexpected twists and turns and fascinating arguments expressing different points of view and different views of marriage from the conventional early-twentieth-century one of Naomis to the unconventional gender-role reversal of her novelist-friend Shireen Deys marriage (in which she is the bread-winner and her husband Julius is the housekeeper).I was shocked by the ending. I later read that the ending is not really unexpected, as it turns out, and vividly displays the shackled status of middle-calss women in Canada, even in the first half of the 20th century. Apparently, things didnt really accelerate in terms of changed attitudes among women & men in Canada until the 1970s, or so Kellys long & informative introduction (to the Tecumseh Press edition) reveals.What I thought would happen is that Arnold would run away with Hester,and Naomi would run off with her enlightened lover Hugo, discover he is almost as bad as Arnold and then run off by herself (something like Nora in Ibsens A Dolls House), realizing (as Anthea Bruchner, a character in my own book The Suicide & other poems by Thomas Higginson, comes to believe) that no-one can truly be free unless they live alone and are unhindered by marriage and other attachments. Freedom! Freedom to do what they want, when they want, without having to live with other people and doing what they want!But life (and people) is/are not that simple, as Macbeths unexpected (to me, anyway) conclusion delivers...and there are many people who find freedom and fulfilment living with or for other people, even in marriage.A fascinating and easy-to-digest read!