The Odd Women, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Virginia and Alice Madden are 'odd women', growing old alone in Victorian England with no prospect of finding love.

Forced into poverty by the sudden death of their father, they lead lives of quiet desperation in a genteel boarding house in London. Meanwhile, their younger sister Monica, struggles to endure a loveless marriage she agreed to as her only escape from spinsterhood.

But when the Maddens meet an old friend, Rhoda Nunn, they are soon made aware of the depth of their oppression.

Astonishingly ahead of its time, The Odd Women is a pioneering work of early feminism.

Gissing's depiction of the daring feminist Rhoda Nunn, it is an unflinching portrayal of one woman's struggle to reconcile her own desires with her deepest principles.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780140433791

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Disappointing. Not much else to say really - seems more a work about feminists than a feminist work. The characters spend a lot of time talking and a little time doing; they make no effort to achieve their ideals. With the exception of Rhoda Nunn, all Gissing has actually shown is how susceptible women are to the charms of men and other vices, regardless of what their minds dictate.

Review by

The writing is not too bad, as it reads easily, but the story is pretty mundane and directionless, with women in various stages of late-nineteenth-century feminism circling in or around the institution of marriage, and then ending up exactly where they started. Some critics claim that THE ODD WOMEN is a naturalist novel, in which everything must and will revert back to its original state of entropy. But I never got emotionally invested even in the characters’ long circle back to their original states. Overall, a mindless, slightly pleasant but mostly forgettable read.

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