"So you were once the beautiful Mrs. Robinson?" begins the prologue of the book in December 1800. Mary Darby Robinson, writing her autobiography at that time, passed away Dec. 26 with that work unfinished. She died in poverty although her fortunes rose and fell during her life.
Was she a victim of circumstances or did she make poor choices? The author does not actually say, but rather presents the facts of her life to the reader. In Freda Lightfoot's words " entirely based on facts, backed up by the less emotional biographies...when in doubt I went to the primary source".
My thought is that she was a victim both of men who pursued her and her own choices. The husband who was thrust upon her at fifteen was not a choice she made, however, but one that was thrust upon her. Her enabling of Thomas Robinson, a weak but pleasant spendthrift and gambler set a pattern for her life.
We can only look to her father who, when Mary was seven left his wife and five children to pursue a life in Labrador with a mistress .The fact that her father remained in control of the family, while not supporting them, cast a very large and dark shadow over her life.
I appreciated the opportunity to review this book which was well researched and comprehensive. Mary was a wistful character, lived a sad life and Lightfoot documented that life well, although I am not sure the title best describes her or her life. My first read by this author but for sure not my last.