Excerpt from How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

How to Create the Perfect Wife

Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate

by Wendy Moore

How to Create the Perfect Wife
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2013, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One

Spring sunshine warmed the ancient brick walls of the courtyards and chambers in London's legal quarter. The jet of water that leapt up thirty feet from the fountain in Fountain Court sparkled in the light before splashing noisily into its basin. The seasonal warmth coaxed the blossoms to burst out on the trees and the young law students to burst out of their rooms and saunter in the gardens beside the river. But for one law student the arrival of spring brought gloom, not cheer.

Thomas Day read the letter from his fiancee in Ireland with incredulity. He had said goodbye to Margaret Edgeworth the previous autumn with every expectation they would be married this coming summer. All through the winter, Day had bent dutifully over his law books in earnest anticipation of his approaching wedding. Now Margaret had written to tell him that she wanted to break off the engagement and Day was mortified. Reeling in a mixture of horror and humiliation, he sank into a deep depression.

In truth the news should hardly have been surprising, for the romance had been shaky from the start. Although he was yet only twenty years old, Day had been romantically disappointed on at least one previous occasion and had been understandably wary of forming a new attachment. So when he first met Margaret, the younger sister of his ebullient Irish friend Richard Lovell Edgeworth, a year earlier there had been no immediate attraction. At loose ends after leaving Oxford University the previous year, Day had jumped at the chance to travel to Ireland for the summer with Edgeworth and Edgeworth's young son, Dick. On arrival at the Edgeworth ancestral home amid the flat fields and black bogs of County Longford, Day had greeted Margaret with initial disdain, and she had likewise shown scant interest in her brother's young friend. It seemed, indeed, that the two were opposites in every conceivable way.

At twenty-two, Margaret was considered one of the most attractive, intelligent and sophisticated women in the county. Brought up with a keen awareness of her long ancestry within one of Ireland's powerful Anglo-Irish families, Margaret had been introduced into the drawing rooms of landed society at an early age. Confident and refined, she had a gift for witty conversation and a reputation for impeccable style. One acquaintance would later say that if Margaret appeared on his doorstep dressed in rags and holding a begging bowl he would still have felt impelled to address her as "Madam."

Two years her junior, Thomas Day was not the most obviously eligible of bachelors. Although he was certainly clever, undoubtedly well educated and shortly due to inherit a considerable fortune, Day's personal attractions were decidedly marred by his comical appearance and unconventional manners. Tall and well built with curling black hair and large hazel eyes, he might have been considered handsome were it not for his stooped shoulders, the severe marks of smallpox that pitted his face and his general dishevelment. Scornful of the contemporary custom for cropped hair covered with a neatly curled wig, Day left his long hair lank and tangled. Eschewing fashionable dress, he wore plain, drab clothes that were invariably crumpled and askew. Even his close friend Edgeworth had to admit: "Mr. Day's exterior was not at that time prepossessing, he seldom combed his raven locks, though he was remarkably fond of washing in the stream." And as his unorthodox approach to personal hygiene might suggest, Day showed no regard for accepted etiquette.

At the dinner table Day's manners were considered so vulgar that they appalled Edgeworth's father. Whether Day merely slurped his soup or went so far as to rest his muddy boots on the table was left unsaid, but certainly Edgeworth senior took "a violent prejudice" against Day "in consequence of something in the manner of his eating and sitting at table, which appeared unsuitable to his rank in life." Over tea in the parlor Day made no attempt at small talk, preferring either to sit sulkily silent or to stand and declaim his dogmatic views loudly and at length.

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted with permission from How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate, by Wendy Moore. Available from Basic Books, a member of The Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2013.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.