Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard | Book Club Week 1

Since I am a member of  Epic Reads (HarperTeen's website), I found out through their Twitter account that the author of Something Strange and Deadly, aka Susan Dennard, started a book club. Like the true book nerd I am I signed up. Every Monday there's a fresh discussion question waiting and there's some great prizes to win *squeal!* so you should really hop on over to her website to check it out!

I have been thinking on how to start this post. Since I am absolutely ecstatic on participating in this book club I decided to just go with it and start writing. So first of all, I wanted to let you know what the book is about.

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

I am going to be writing about this weeks discussion question regarding the book Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard. A question I am absolutely happy with because it is something I am very interested in. In fact I’ve written an entire essay on this subject, but instead of this book I used the well known Jane Austen novels. Okay enough blabbering, I’ll tell you what this weeks discussion question is:

Eleanor’s mother expects a lot from poor El. She wants Eleanor to marry and save the family from financial ruin (despite the fact that Eleanor is only 16), she wants Eleanor to become friends with the rich “cool” kids (like Allison or the Virtue Sisters), and she wastes money the Fitt family doesn’t have on new gowns and fancy house decor. She demands Eleanor behave according to “proper etiquette” and squeeze into a corset that deforms her ribs.

Do you think, given the time period, Mrs. Fitt is justified in her demands on Eleanor? Why or why not?
As much as I dislike Mrs. Fitt’s demands on Eleanor. I think it is somewhat understandable. Especially since a woman living in the Victorian era had next to nothing without her reputation.

A woman’s reputation was the key to a happy and fulfilling life and without this said reputation society would cast them out. A woman’s reputation would also eventually give way to a good marriage, and a marriage was the only way for a woman to become somewhat financially independent. So basically a good marriage was the way to be secure in life.

Eleanor’s position is a tough one. Her father is deceased and her brother is not around. Since women weren’t allowed to work, the family had no income. The only way to secure themselves financially was for Eleanor to marry off well. And Clarence being rich, a marriage to him would help with all of their financial troubles. It would be the answer to everything.

Mrs. Fitt demanded a lot from Eleanor, but this all in order for her daughter to marry to Clarence, who was very well of and, most important of all, rich. The demands were for Eleanor to uphold her reputation, and to secure the marriage that would save her family from financial ruin.

So, no, I don’t like the way Mrs.Fitt demands lots of things from Eleanor, but I do think that the specific time they live in does somewhat justify her behavior. Simply put, she is trying to save her family in the only way a woman living in the Victorian era was able to do. By securing themselves through a proper marriage, to (preferably) a rich man.

Whew, I feel like writing my essay all over again! Only this was much shorter since my essay was 60 pages long (and I loved every single second of writing it, don’t worry about that). So here you go, my first response to the first discussion question. Hopefully the first of much more to come!