Book Review: “Emma” by F. W. Kenyon

Emma F. W. Kenyon 1955

I picked up Emma by F. W. Kenyon at a yard sale back in July. It’s the hard cover 1955 version. Right away, I was surprised at the willingness and ease Emma, the main character only 17 years old in 1780, living in England, gave herself to Captain John Willet-Payne who offered to free her 14-year-old cousin from the Navy, having been forced into it by a press gang. ‘Gave herself’ as in a sexual favour exchanged for a personal favour. Oddly, it seems this wasn’t Emma’s first sexual experience.

No surprise, her stint at Uppark at South Harting in Sussex under Sir Henry Fetherstonhaugh’s protection ended within a year, Emma having become impregnated and showing. Offered protection by Charles Grevill, she eventually falls in love with him as he tutors her into being a refined lady.

In this novel, a man offering protection was not merely him putting a roof over her head and protecting her innocence; it was more often the woman doing the chores and offering her bed whenever her protector needed satisfying.

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