BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: Contemplating Adultery - Lotte & Joseph Hamburger: Pan, pounds 6.99

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The Independent Culture
Contemplation was as far as it got. Sarah Austin was an ultra-respectable Victorian wife, Prince Hermann von Puckler-Muskau the Byronic, womanising German author of a book she was translating. They corresponded, she fell in love by post; her letters became the vehicle for all her suppressed yearnings and richly erotic imaginings until, threatened by an actual meeting, the German took flight and Sarah was left to nurse her grief. We're no longer surprised by revelations of Victorian women's sensuality, but the automatic hypocrisy of the age can still shock: consumed by lust she may have been, but Sarah remained careful to excise even the mildest impropriety from her translations of Puckler's books.