14 April 2020

Review: Gulliver's Wife by Lauren Chater

Gulliver's Wife by Lauren Chater cover
* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster *

Set in London in the early 1700s, Gulliver's Wife by Lauren Chater is the fictionalised story of Mary Burton Gulliver. Mary's husband Lemuel is the main character in Gulliver's Travels, a novel written by Jonathan Swift and published in 1726.

Instead of reading about Lemuel Gulliver's sea journeys and adventures, we read about Mary's experiences on the home front. When Mary receives word her husband's ship has sunk and he is presumed dead, she is forced to eke out a meagre living as a midwife in order to support her two children. The novel covers the time in the novel that Lemuel is shipwrecked in Lilliput and when he finally makes it home three years later, his return throws Mary's life upside down.

Lemuel is a straight up unlikeable character and I found myself constantly hoping Mary would take a stand against the actions of her husband. As a consequence, I was often frustrated and disappointed when she wasn't able to assert the rights I enjoy as a 21st century woman of privilege. The relationship between Mary and her teenage daughter Bess was just as crucial to the story.

I haven't read Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift but it certainly didn't impede my enjoyment of Gulliver's Wife in any way.

Australian author Lauren Chater does a terrific job bringing Wapping to life on the page and I learned a lot about midwifery practices in the 1700s which was an unexpected bonus. I enjoyed Mary's struggle and attempt to protect her children against the dangers of poverty, while continuing to seek purpose and validation in her work as a midwife.

Gulliver's Wife by Australian author Lauren Chater is a terrific historical fiction novel and I can highly recommend it.

Carpe Librum!

My Rating:

P.S. For more, check out my review of Well Read Cookies - Beautiful Biscuits Inspired by Great Literature by Lauren Chater.

Would you like to comment?

  1. We posted our reviews on the same day! Glad to see you also enjoyed this one.

    1. Snap! Love that we're so in step with our reviews, I'll go and check yours out now :-)

  2. I have read Gulliver's Travels, so this does sound interesting to me. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Davida, would love to hear your perspective having read the classic that inspired this one. Hope you enjoy it.

  3. Interesting that this the authro chose to use Mrs Gulliver to tell this story!

    1. It is, isn't it Marg? We see plenty of spin offs of other classics but I'm not aware of any others for Gulliver's Travels.


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