Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage – Book Review

By Stephanie Coontz.

You may think that sex and marriage are not necessarily related, or even that they are negatively related. But this extensive account of marriage and gender relations is intrinsically a book about the place of sex in organized social history.

Although the book is packed with details, it makes for a fascinating read, because it takes a look at historical material from a very juicy angle. It explains the roots of the institution of marriage, always refering to the place of sex and romance within (or more likely – outside of) nuptial agreements.

Many of today’s confusing mores on dating, defining relationships, cohabitation and child raising are explained through the lens of the revolution that occured when, about 200 years ago, marriage started to become an institution based on emotional connection instead of family and community politics and socio-economics.

The book is loaded with interesting tidbits of information that you’ll be quoting back to your friends regularly. It is not just a scholarly book, but a book that inadvertently provides personal relections and social understanding. Best of all, it leaves you feeling that things today are much better than the media would have us think, when it comes to marriage, divorce, love and mutual respect.



    • Written by an historian
    • For anybody interested in history, gender studies and
    • Covers ancient history to present day gender relations
    • Includes anecdotal evidence from women’s diaries and letters
    • Detailed index



Penguin Books, 2005


Dinah Rates      

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