Laurence Talairach-Vielmas explores Victorian representations of femininity in narratives that depart from mainstream realism, from fairy tales by George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, Christina Rossetti, Juliana Horatia Ewing, and Jean Ingelow, to sensation novels by Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Rhoda Broughton, and Charles Dickens. Feminine representation, Talairach-Vielmas argues, is actually presented in a hyper-realistic way in such anti-realistic genres as children's literature and sensation fiction. In fact, it is precisely the clash between fantasy and reality that enables the narratives to interrogate the real and re-create a new type of realism that exposes the normative constraints imposed to contain the female body. In her exploration of the female body and its representations, Talairach-Vielmas examines how Victorian fantasies and sensation novels deconstruct and reconstruct femininity; she focuses in particular on the links between the female characters and consumerism, and shows how these serve to illuminate the tensions underlying the representation of the Victorian ideal.
’… the author's exploration of the female body in Victorian fairy tales is a fascinating entry into the study of women's bodies in Victorian literature… the notion of 'moulding' the female body is innovative in Victorian literary criticism and announces that the book will endeavour to circumvent a subject that has too often been explored in antagonistic or even simplistic terms… Talairach-Vielmas's book includes extensive and relevant footnotes and offers an intriguing approach to Victorian heroines through thorough textual analyses.’ Cercles ’… provides a unique viewpoint on the relationship between the aestheticised female body and consumer culture, offering a new reading of fairy tales and sensation novels, emphasizing the importance of these genres.’ Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies ’Moulding the Female Body would be a welcome addition to any collection of scholarship on sensation fiction… Historians and literary scholars will find much to admire and to be inspired by here.’ H-Childhood