Thursday, December 31, 2009

100 Books for Summer Reading (1900)

On June 16, 1900, the New York Times published an article entitled "100 Books for Summer Reading". It is an interesting list with many titles and authors I have never heard of.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bookmark - Mary Barton

Mary Barton
by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cranford on Masterpiece Classic

The BBC production of Cranford will be rebroadcast by PBS in the US beginning on December 20th. This is a prelude to the new series, Return to Cranford, to be shown beginning January 10th. Here is a link to the schedule.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Philip and His Wife

Philip and His Wife
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.

The Haunted Homestead

The Haunted Homestead
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.