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This is a well written biography of a little known woman. In detailing Miss Coutts' life, Edna Healey inevitably details the conventions which placed limits on what women could do. In almost all of her charitable works, Miss Coutts relied upon or had recourse to men - perhaps if she had been male she would not have remained a shadowy figure in the history of Victorian England. Nonetheless, she was a compassionate and determined women who was a pioneer in concern for the poor and much of her fortune went towards improving their lot in life. Her friendship with Charles Dickens shed new light (for me) on his work for the poor. In some ways Miss Coutts' life was typical of the life of a well-off Victorian woman - at-homes, continental travel, health cures, and this does become slightly monotonous, but there is a parade of famous characters who regularly brighten the scene. If the social round and charitable works see your interest flagging a little, push on because there is quite a surprise toward the end.
I was thoroughly enjoying Anna Bentinck's narration, pleasant voice, pleasant accent, UNTIL, it appears, she read several chapters while suffering a heavy cold. The stuffed-up nasal voice was just horrible, I had to force myself to keep listening. Thankfully she recovered but it did spoil my enjoyment of this book.