I have been looking forward to reading this book for a while, since I first saw the cover, I think. Yes, covers matter, they’re the first introduction readers get to the book, the first impression. And this one does a very good job, reflecting what the book will be about in a most accurate manner. It’s at once pretty, funny, and busy. The tongue-in-cheekiness of the title (the full title is Observations on the Danger of Female Curiosity: Including an account of the unnatural tendencies arising on the over-stimulation of the mind of a lady) allows the book to feel lighter than what the topics it tackles threaten.
Thea is the eldest daughter of the Morell family and, as such, is expected to marry so that her husband can inherit her father’s wealth and keep her mother and sisters safe. The trouble is, Thea would much rather learn about nature than about men. And most men don’t care for scholarly women, so even if she was inclined towards falling for one, he would have to be open-minded enough to let her pursue her collections of dead fish and insects. When Thea realizes her feelings for women go beyond accepted romantic friendships, she’s faced with momentous choices.
Set in the second half of the eighteenth century, both in London and in the countryside, Observations on The Danger of Female Curiosity is about changing minds, one bigot at a time.
I have my issues with the main romance arc but I can’t write about them without spoiling, since the author very cleverly sprinkled twists here and there. I’m also not entirely comfortable with the way handicap, colonialism, and slavery are referred to. I understand the need to balance the reality of the times the story is set in and the readability of the story itself but these topics felt mostly used as a way to establish Thea as progressive. The characters most affected, in particular Scip, exist in intention but only on the side.
That said, this is a debut and a very interesting one. It’s smart, the writing is spirited and there’s enough lightness, including really funny scenes, to offset all the drama. I look forward to seeing where (and when) Suzanne Moss will take her readers next.
As an aside, I’m pretty sure Thea would have enjoyed my pebble-of-the-day pictures on social media.
Buy Observations on the Danger of Female Curiosity:
This post contains affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on this blog at no additional cost to you.