The book I am into lately : "ODD WOMEN" by George Gissing.
A brief summary can be found at the above link.
It is about life during the 1800s. Especially about life of married and unmarried women. Girls in those ages (just as in the present) were brought up to believe that marriage was the only goal in their lives.
It explores how a working woman often had no marriage prospects, how a woman's career was deemed marriage and how unmarried women were often regarded strange or 'ODD' as they were unpaired.
The story is about a set of sisters, how they are forced to work after the death of their father, and hence remain unmarried. The youngest - a shop girl - marries a wealthy older man, but is quickly disheartened by the authority and the restrictions a husband places on his wife.
2 progressive women (friends of the above mentioned sisters) set out to give unmarried girls a means of supporting themselves. They encourage young girls to educate themselves, and look for job opportunities previously closed to women (such as clerk, typewriters), and move away from traditional careers (such as governesses etc).
I have finished half the book. I find it an echo of modern day issues ... the cry of married women to be allowed to pursue their interests, their friends and their lives without being strangled by the burden of duty, womanhood and femininity.
There are so many conversations in the book really worth noting. Specially identifiable are the dialogues of the youngest sister (Monica) when she remarks to her husband that if she were overburdened by duty towards him or children, she'd never be happy. Her husband remarks that such a duty is not a burden but a privilege, to which she questions the lack of understanding of similarity between the nurturing of a family and the nurturing of a career.
There are also dialogues where she questions how it is alright for the man to indulge in his pleasures, but how it is wrong if the wife as much as goes to visit her friends.
To her questions, her husband gives the classic male answer : "In a marriage, the husband is ALWAYS right due to his advanced years, and it is the duty of the wife to obey him".