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London - Edward Rutherfurd I read and enjoyed Rutherfurd's Russka and didn't realize till near the end in what contempt he held his female characters, but by a few stories into this one it was unmistakeable.

Now let me be clear: I'm not objecting to the lack of rights and opportunities women have in the distant time periods portrayed. That's historical accuracy. But a modern author demeaning women, portraying them as interesting only in regards to their relationships with men, is inexcusable.

I'll give an example: One of the stories involves a woman named Elfgiva. She holds to the polytheistic religion of her ancestors, but her husband is a Christian. He insists that she converts. Because she's a silly stubborn woman, she refuses. Her husband shrugs and decides that he'll get a new wife. But she's still in love with him! She can't just accept that and leave him! So she sticks around, even though she has the means to leave. He demeans her in every possible way, refusing to compromise on the issue. She witnesses him cheating on her (with her friend, by the way; you'll be unsurprised to hear that her rare conversations with another woman are always about a man), and that makes her unhappy, and what's more, lonely. Then she has an epiphany. What is her pride, her dignity, her heritage and religion, compared to the love of her husband (who has made clear by his behavior that he doesn't care for her at all)? Her gods aren't warming her bed, after all! She knows her husband is likely to set her aside for another woman in the future, but she's willing to give up her self-respect and take him just for now. She does the proper female thing and gives in, and the story ends happily.

Let me go clean the vomit out of my mouth. I have no intention of reading any more Rutherfurd books ever again. Which is kind of shame, because otherwise he's a decent author and does his research. But this kind of misogyny is simply inexcusable.