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The Bohemian Girl (1988), Frances Vernon’s fourth novel, transports us to 1890s London to meet the young Diana Blentham, whom Vernon first introduced to readers – as a celebrated grande horizontale – in the opening pages of her 1982 debut Privileged Children.
Diana fears that the lot of an intelligent woman is to simply be married and never again open a book. Her father wonders – not incorrectly – if Diana’s brains may lead her ‘to some grave lapse in good behaviour’. So it comes to pass one day when, riding on her bicycle in Battersea Park, she knocks over a handsome Irish painter…
‘A pretty, witty little parable about Victorian values, and the hazards of being female and intelligent in a country as sexist and anti-intellectual as the United Kingdom… This romance has teeth… it bites the eternal issues of class, and sex, and freedom.’ Philip Howard, The Times
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