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

Yet for all his slovenly appearance and boorish manners, there was evidently something about the youth that appealed to some men—Edgeworth for one—and occasionally some women. Day's commitment to enhancing human rights had struck a chord with fellow radicals, while his determination to help those worse off than himself had earned him many admirers. University friends at Oxford and fellow law students in London treated Day as something of an absentminded philosopher or a romantic rebel. He seemed not quite of his time. His espousal of chivalric virtues and classical heroes harked back to a past age; his opposition to class-ridden systems and traditional hierarchies seemed to anticipate a distant future. Certainly his ideas were out of pace with the consumer-driven, celebrity-obsessed, fashion-mad culture that was predominant in Georgian Britain.

At first, therefore, Day and Margaret appeared to have nothing in common. Repulsed by her brother's loutish friend and his daring ideas, Margaret kept out of his way as much as politeness allowed. Equally contemptuous of his friend's elegant sister and her polished manners, Day gave Margaret a wide berth. To Day, Margaret represented "a sort of being for which he had a feeling of something like horror," according to her brother Richard. And so for the first few weeks in the large country house the pair had maintained "an awful distance." But as they had spent more and more time together during uncomfortable meals and awkward social occasions over the early summer of 1768, they had gradually discovered some mutual interests.

Margaret found herself intrigued by the eccentric Englishman. She too had been disappointed in love— by a dashing but unsuitable English army officer— and Day offered a refreshing contrast to the fawning beaux who usually competed for her attentions. Managing to overlook his lack of grooming and poor social skills, she was moved by the powerful monologues Day delivered on improving the lot of humanity and had to admire his philanthropic plans. Drawing Day into conversation, Margaret's "easy manners, and agreeable conversation" had managed to "unbend" Day's aloof conduct, said Edgeworth.

At the same time, Day became entranced by his clever and attractive hostess. He discovered a shared interest in literature and nature as well as finding a few differences of opinion over the importance of etiquette and "aristocratic habits." According to Edgeworth, watching wryly from the sidelines, his smart little sister could always run rings around Day when arguing her point; it was only when he was alone with Day that Edgeworth found "Mr. Day's eloquence prevailed." As in the best of romantic comedies, the cut and thrust of verbal sparring led to heated passions.

At the beginning of August, Day cautiously proposed to Margaret and she tentatively accepted. When the pair announced their intentions to the assembled family, Margaret's brother had been as surprised as her father was horrified. Edgeworth senior refused point-blank to give the marriage plan his blessing, having taken resolutely against the scruffy English youth "from Prejudices too ridiculous to mention," in Day's words. But Margaret determined that she would go ahead regardless, and so the pair agreed that they would marry as soon as Day reached twenty-one the following summer. Postponing his return to London so that he and his future spouse could get to know each other a little better, Day stayed on in the Edgeworth country home as the summer faded. In retrospect this had not been such a good idea. For as Day outlined his vision of marital bliss, Margaret's ardor began visibly to cool.

  • 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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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.


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.