Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
by Margaret Deland
I am reading Philip and His Wife by Margaret Deland. It is set in the fictional town of Old Chester, Pennsylvania, and many of the Old Chester characters I've met in Deland's stories appear, most notably the beloved Dr. Lavendar. His brother, Joseph Lavendar, also plays a role in this story, adding a new dimension to what we know about Dr. Lavendar.
This book is a full length novel, rather than a collection of Old Chester stories. It explores the question of what to do when a marriage has gone bad. Philip has come to the realization that his marriage is not good, that his wife, Cecilia, is spoiling their daughter and inculcating in her values that Philip believes are harmful. As he thinks over what he should do, he considers the idea of joint custody of the daughter. I was not aware that joint custody was ever an option in the 19th century.
By way of comparing and contrasting bad marriages, there is a subplot involving the Todd family, where the husband, Job, is an alcoholic who sometimes beats his wife, Eliza. Eliza rationalizes staying with Job, rather than leaving him, as when he is sober he makes a good living, and it is easier to put up with the beatings than to put the law on Job and have to live without his financial contribution.
by EDEN Southworth
I read The Haunted Homestead by EDEN (Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte) Southworth yesterday. Set in Virginia in an isolated location in the mountains, it begins in a very promising fashion. Southworth creates a very spooky atmosphere, one of the best I've read in a haunted house/ghost story in a very long time. I found the ending rather disappointing, however.
I've tried other books by Southworth but found them not to my taste. She was a prolific 19th century writer of romance fiction and apparently some gothic fiction as well. I'll probably try some more of her books on the strength of The Haunted Homestead.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
- Guardian Angel, O.W. Holmes
- Elsie Venner, O.W. Holmes
- The Autocrat at the Breakfast Table, O.W. Holmes
- Professor at the Breakfast Table, O.W. Holmes
- The Poet at the Breakfast Table, O.W. Holmes
- Over the Teacups, O.W. Holmes
- The Biglow Papers, James Russell Lowell
- Captain Courageous, Rudyard Kipling
- Prudence Palfrey, Thomas Bailey Adrich
- A Singular Life, Mrs. Phelps Ward
- A Native of Winby, Miss Jewett
- The Country Doctor, Miss Jewett
- The Minister's Wooing, Mrs. Stowe
- Oldtown Folks, (no author given)
- Odd or Even, Mrs. Whitney
- John Ward, Preacher, Mrs. Deland
- Somebody's Neighbors, Mrs. Cooke
- Rowena in Boston, Miss Pool
- Danvis Folks, Rowland E. Robinson
- Two Coronets, M.A. Tincker
- Malbone, T.W. Higginson
- Dr. Breen's Practice, W.D. Howells
- The Minister's Charge, W.D. Howells
- Herman; or, Young Knighthood, S.H. Palfrey
- The Pagans, Arlo Bates
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Miss Maria - page 89
by Margaret Deland
What a delightful story! Miss Maria Welwood is a gentle soul, full of kindness and good nature. We meet more residents of Old Chester, Mrs. Barkley and her brother-in-law Mr. Ezra Barkley.
I just do not understand how these wonderful stories have been allowed to fade away from the reading public. They are every bit as wonderful as Cranford, the characters as memorable. Reading reviews in the New York Times of the books as they were published, it is clear they were enormously popular. Dr. Lavendar, the minister, was so beloved that readers wrote to Mrs. Deland asking who he was based on in real life, as they wanted to meet and consult his prototype.
What a joy to have discovered this charming series!
Friday, November 27, 2009
Around Old Chester
by Margaret Deland
I am greatly enjoying Margaret Deland's Old Chester stories. They are not all light hearted. In fact, The Face on the Wall was a powerful portrait of a marriage destroyed by alcoholism and gambling. It is in the volume titled Mr. Tommy Dove and Other Stories and does not take place in Old Chester, although it begins in a nearby town. I sincerely hope the Murray sisters figure in subsequent Old Chester stories. They would fit right in Cranford society, making allowances for the differences in American and English village life. Dr. Lavendar is a recurring figure in the stories. I like him as a character and look forward to getting to know him better as I read.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Old Chester Tales
by Margaret Deland
Several years ago I read John Ward, Preacher by Margaret Deland and loved it. For some reason - probably because Deland's books were not accessible to me at the time - I did not read anything else by this author. Last night, though, I downloaded Old Chester Tales and have begun reading it this morning with my breakfast. What a wonderful discovery! In the introduction to the Google Books edition available through the links here, Vida Scudder of Wellesley College compares Deland to Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell; and Deland's fictional Old Chester to Cranford.
This volume is the second of the chronicles of Old Chester, and I am anticipating a wonderful visit there. The first volume of the series is Mr. Tommy Dove and Other Stories, published in 1893.
I will say before I go that John Ward, Preacher has a somber tone, and I understand from what I have read about some of Deland's other novels that the somber tone prevails in some of them. I am expecting, however, to find an American version of Cranford in Margaret Deland's Old Chester, Pennsylvania.
Later: I have just finished reading the first story in Mr. Tommy Dove, and oh, how I loved it. It reminds me far more of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford than of Jane Austen, but of course this is just the first story of the series. I highly recommend it.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
by J.D. Beresford
From The Best British Short Stories of 1922, page 20.
Two Rachel Deanes, one an elderly woman and the other her much younger niece, share more than just the same name. Their mannerisms, handwriting and personalities are almost identical. The elder sees her younger self in her niece. Standing in front of a mirror, it is evident that the reflection she sees is not of herself as she is today but a reflection of her younger self, very like her niece. The younger Rachel also stands before a mirror, but what she sees is what she will become, old and decrepit like her aunt. The mirrors play a prominent role in this story, which would have made a wonderful prelude to a story of haunting.
The story can be read or downloaded from Google Books by clicking on the link in the story's title above.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
by Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren
"…Washington is rated as at the foot of the diplomatic ladder by European governments. Goslings are sent here to learn to quack and try their wings, and crude tyros to make a beginning."
Saturday, November 14, 2009
by Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren
Page 111: "A Washington season may be said to commence on New Year's Day, and to terminate with Ash Wednesday. This interval usually includes about two months' space of time, in which a series of gayeties engage the entire attention of society people; but with the setting-in of Lent, Catholics and Episcopalians withdraw more or less from the world, and their number is large enough to exercise decided influence over society movements, if not to control them."
I can well imagine how this paragraph would have been received by those who lived and suffered in the south, especially Virginia, during the American civil war! I can hear the outraged voices rising in protest. I wonder if Thomas Nelson Page, a Virginia writer of the same period, wrote anything about this book? Or Sara Pryor, or Constance Cary Harrison, or later, Ellen Glasgow?
By Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren
"Monday is the reception-day of the wives of the Justices of the Supreme Court. Tuesday is a day selected by many in society to receive. Wednesday is Cabinet Day. Thursday is Senators' Day. " Mrs. Wilton proposes to receive on Friday from three until six, "for on this day most of the old families of Washington receive their friends. Each Saturday evening I propose to hold a conversazione."
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
by Molly Levite Griffis
What happens when a beloved grandparent begins displaying symptoms of Alzheimer's disease? Once in a Blue Moon by Molly Levite Griffis explores this theme in a loving and compassionate manner. It is a must read for all families struggling to explain to children what is happening when this disease strikes.
I have read the three previous Simon Serrailler books and enjoyed them. Hill writes a more literary detective novel than most, and the character of Simon Serrailler appeals to me greatly in much the same manner that P.D. James's Adam Dalgliesh does. I am looking forward to reading this book, more for the new details about Simon's life than for the plot revolving around the crimes.
I have also ordered Howards End is on the Landing, also by Susan Hill. I have read mixed reviews of this book, but as I am an admirer of Susan Hill, I know I will find her views interesting.
On my Sony PRS-505 I am reading The Chippendales by Robert Grant, a story of new Boston (new in the 1880s, anyway) and old Boston, clashing values as the city grows and changes. I think it is a wonderful novel, evoking a stronger sense of place than any other novel set in Boston that I have read. Grant (1852-1940) was a probate judge from a notable Boston family, so he knows whereof he writes. The link in the title at the beginning of the paragraph will take you to the Google Books version which can be downloaded either in pdf or ebpub format. Well worth reading.
If only I had more time for reading!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Epub documents can be read on ebook readers. For those who don't have dedicated ebook readers, Adobe Digital Editions also reads epub documents and can be installed on computers.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
If you click on the words "epub version" above, you should be taken to a page with a link for downloading the epub version of The Lady's Walk. In order to read this story, you must have something that reads epub documents, such as Adobe Digital Editions which can be downloaded from a link in the right hand column of this blog.
Patience is a virtue as you wait for the story to be downloaded and opened by your epub reader.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
"As for Selma, I think her as good in her way as Gwendolen Grandcourt. Every stroke tells, and you never forget the inconscient quality of her selfishness; you never fall into the error of making her deliberately false or cruel. The lesser characters seem to me admirably differentiated, from Mrs. Margaret Rodney Earle to the incomparable Mr. Lyons, whose speech to the Benham Institute in the nomination of Miss Luella Bailey is a masterpiece of American rhetoric."
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Prodigal Judge by Vaughan Kester
The Valiants of Virginia by Hallie Erminie Rives
What Can She Do? by Rev. E. P. Roe
Woven of Many Threads by Cecilia Viets Jamison
The Holcombes: A Story of Virginia Home-Life by Mary Tucker Magill
Newlyn House: The Home of the Davenports by A.E.W.
The Curate and the Rector by Elizabeth Strutt
The Pink and White Tyranny by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Old Margaret by Henry Kingsley
I am ever on the lookout for novels set in Virginia and, as can be seen, there are two on the above list. Of course I have no idea at this point whether I will enjoy reading any of the above, but it is great fun to browse and acquire books when there is no cost involved.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Best Selling Books of 1862
As listed by Victorian Web
- The Doctor's Family by Margaret Oliphant
- The Last of the Mortimers by Margaret Oliphant
- Ravenshoe by Henry Kingsley
- Held in Bondage by Ouida
- Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
- A Strange Story by Bulwer-Lytton
- The Lord Mayor of London by Harrison Ainsworth
- Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope
- No Name by Wilkie Collins
Victorian Web does not give the source for the best sellers lists it has put up. The reader will note that there is not a single American author on the list for 1862. This could be explained, perhaps, by the fact that the Civil War was raging in the US that year. Or does the word Victorian mean that only English authors and their books were considered for the list? I'm guessing this is the case, as there is no mention of Edith Wharton, W. D. Howells, or Henry James for any of the years (the lists range from 1862 to 1901).
Sunday, July 26, 2009
by Robert Grant
The book overview of Robert Grant's Unleavened Bread at books.google.com reports that Unleavened Bread was one of the best selling novels of 1900. Today it is all but forgotten, which is a shame, as it is very readable and captures the period well. The setting is a state in New England, city of Benham, with one part set in New York City. Selma White is a school teacher at the beginning of the book and has reached the conclusion that teaching is not how she wants to spend the rest of her life. She feels she is destined to play a larger role in life, and the book chronicles her aspirations and efforts to find and fill that larger role.
Selma uses marriage to project herself in life, riding the coattails of her husbands, one marriage ending in divorce and one in widowhood. She strives for acceptance both socially and intellectually and meets with both disappointment and success along the way.
This is one of those forgotten books that would almost certainly do well if republished today. The action begins in about the 1870s and gives a portrait of New England and New York society through the years following the Civil War from the perspective of the children of soldiers in that war. This is not a novel of Reconstruction as it is set in the north, but issues devolving from that war are a part of the atmosphere.
Unleavened Bread could be read as a northern counterpart to Ellen Glasgow's novel Virginia, set in Richmond at the same time period. The experiences of the two protagonists, Selma and Virginia, are very different, reflecting the roles of women in the north and the south in the post-Civil War years.
I'm not sure I understand the title. Unleavened bread is bread made without yeast or other leavening agents. It is flat, does not rise. Is this a reference to Selma's efforts to rise in society?
Also available at Project Gutenberg.