Review – Ladies of the Grand Tour

Cover of Ladies of the Grand Tour by Brian DolanLadies of the Grand Tour, Brian Dolan

This is an interesting and worthy subject for study: the enlightenment and freedom women found (or didn’t find) while on the ‘Grand Tour’, a round of Continental travel that naturally only the rich could pull off. This is a time where women were just beginning to consider that they might have rights, when the French Revolution was still rumbling on. It’s well researched and while sometimes dry, usually interesting enough to read, if a bit offputting when it focuses on ‘extra-marital affairs and bastard children’, as another reviewer put it. I didn’t find it quite as single-minded as they did, but yes, it does discuss the way women began to pull free of social restrictions on their behaviour.

Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of Glamour in Glass or A Natural History of Dragons and the female characters there who push against the boundaries of society and make discoveries, become equal partners with men, etc. Some of that spirit is here, too, in the real women Dolan studies.

Rating: 3/5

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