"A masterpiece." — Walter Allen
A moral fable about the narrow and starved existence that results from self-sacrifice, this novel traces a Victorian woman's suffocating and stunted life. More than a case history of an underdeveloped individual who chooses loyalty to a friendship over the lure of romance, the story criticizes the values of nineteenth-century middle-class society and the destructiveness that lurks beneath the façade of good manners.
Less well known today than her contemporaries Virginia Woolf and Rebecca West, May Sinclair (1863-1946) was considered England's most distinguished female novelist in the years preceding World War I. Her other works include short stories, philosophical texts, a biography of the Brontë sisters, and several poetry collections. Combining stream of consciousness with a traditional narrative, Life and Death of Harriett Frean reflects its author's mastery of modernist techniques.
"This small, perfect gem of a book ... looks unsparingly at the moral degeneration of one woman as her heart hardens into a protective bitterness." — Jonathan Coe