"The brevity, concision, epistolary forme, clarity, and classical simplicity of the French make this novella an eminently usable text for undergraduate courses in French literature, women's studies, literary theory, narratology, and comparative anthropology."
"A work of startling modernity, which could become a curricular standard like 'The Yellow Wallpaper' or The Awakening."
English Showalter, Jr.
Professor of French, Rutgers University
Author of The Evolution of the French Novel
Mistress Henley has just married the perfect husband. Tall, handsome, and even-tempered, Mr. Henley is the widower of a woman who left him a large fortune and the father of an angelical five-year-old girl. Yet Mistress finds herself incapable of making her husband - and herself - happy. Nothing she does - the way she treats her stepdaughter, her decisions regarding the household, how she dresses for a ball - is to his liking. She has chosen a decent and affectionate man as her life's companion, only to discover that she cannot bear sharing his life.
Lettres de Mistriss Henley publiées par son amie was composed as a response to Samuel de Constant's misogynist novel Le mari sentimental (1783). An immediate success on its publication in 1784, Mistriss Henley was greeted with acclaim and controversy: one reader called the book "literarily excellent" but "morally dangerous."