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Praise for Elizabeth Abbot:
""A History of Marriage" amuses and entertains readers. . . .Sure to provoke and surprise."--"The Globe and Mail"
"Ambitious and wide-ranging."--"The New Yorker"
"A juicy, brilliantly insightful survey--as readable as it is intellectually sophisticated, alternately witty and moving."--"The Village Voice"
What does the tradition of marriage really look like? With A History of Marriage, Elizabeth Abbott paints an often surprising picture of this most public, yet most intimate, institution. A union between a man and a woman, or between varying genders? A legal prerequisite to childrearing, or an after-the-fact common law arrangement? Abbott reveals a complex tradition that includes same-sex unions, arranged marriages, impromptu self-marriages, and child brides.
The wedding ceremony too has worn many faces: "spousals," common before the mid-twelfth century in western Europe, required no priest, but only the privately proclaimed consent of the couple; the iconic white wedding dress did not emerge until the late eighteenth century after Queen Victoria's lavish 1840 gown; and the elegant wedding day of Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres at their Los Angeles home in 2008 perhaps hints at wedding days to come.
The unexpected past of traditional marriage--in all its loving, unloving, decadent, impoverished, conventional, and unconventional manifestations--from mail-order brides, and polyandry to infidelity and divorce--is revealed here through Abbott's famously infectious curiosity.
Elizabeth Abbott is an award-winning and best-selling author and historian with a special interest in women's issues and the environment. She has a doctorate from McGill University in nineteenth century history. Her other books include "A History of Celibacy" and "A History of Mistresses." She lives in Toronto.
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