Posts Tagged ‘elinorglyn’

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Edwardian/WWI-era fiction at Edwardian Promenade

February 1, 2012

There have been a lot of articles and blog posts floating around lately about what to read if you’re into Downton Abbey. One in particular, which talked about Elizabeth von Arnim apropos of one character giving a copy of Elizabeth and Her German Garden to another, made Evangeline at Edwardian Promenade say, “hey, what about Elinor Glyn?” Which, obviously, is the correct response to everything. And then I read it, and thought, “yeah, Elizabeth and her German Garden was popular when it came out in 1898, but would people really be trying to get each other to read a fifteen year-old(ish) novel by a German author during World War I?” And then we decided that we could probably come up with an excellent list of Edwardian and World War I-era fiction that tied in the Downton Abbey. And so we did.

It’s a pretty casual list, mostly composed of things we came up with off the tops of out heads, a bit of research on Evangeline’s part and a bit of flipping through advertisements on mine, so we’re making no claims to be exhaustive. If you have suggestions for additions to the list, leave a comment.

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The Contrast, and other stories

July 17, 2011

The Contrast is the first book of Elinor Glyn’s short stories I’ve read, and it’s a pretty mixed bag. There are five stories in all; “Fragments” is the shortest and “The Point of View” by far the longest.

In no particular order, except that I saved the best for last (and by best I mean worst): Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Career of Katherine Bush

July 13, 2011

As if I needed another reason to think Elinor Glyn was awesome.

As usual, Glyn writes about the moneyed British upper class. Less usually, her heroine is a stranger to it. Katherine Bush is one of six children in a middle class family. Her father was an auctioneer, her mother’s father was a butcher, and her siblings are kind of embarrassingly unrefined, but Katherine is smart and driven, and she’s determined to raise herself to a better position.

We know she’s going to manage it, because Elinor Glyn wouldn’t have written the kind of book where she doesn’t, and it’s not like this is a totally unfamiliar plot, but The Career of Katherine Bush manages to be pretty exciting. It’s got that trademark Glyn combination: the gooiest possible romance mixed with total ruthlessness. And a bit more politics than you wanted. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Reviews at EP: The Visits of Elizabeth, etc.

January 17, 2011

My new post at Edwardian Promenade is up! It’s about one of my favorite Elinor Glyn books, The Visits of Elizabeth, and two sequels, one by Glyn and one…not.

I found myself thinking, halfway through Elizabeth Visits America, about the way books take place in their own separate worlds. I mean, I often think about how an author’s style sort of creates an alternate universe, so the works of Elinor Glyn take place in a world where women are naturally a bit conniving and men are very simple and countries age like people, but here I was thinking more about how I read a lot of books set in the same time period, but somehow I always relate them in terms of style, not history. Anyway, there’s a bit in Elizabeth Visits America where Elizabeth is in New York, and she talks about young people who aren’t out in society yet, and how the boys and girls are as familiar with each other as siblings, and how their dances are almost like children’s parties, and I suddenly realized that — remember, this is 1909 — hey, that’s Patty Fairfield that Elizabeth is meeting, basically. So, I don’t know, I thought I’d share that.

Anyway, the post is here.

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One Day

September 16, 2010

Remember Three Weeks? Remember High Noon?

Elinor Glyn published Three Weeks in 1907. Anonymous published High Noon in 1911. Anonymous — the same Anonymous, I’ve just found — published One Day in 1909. So, yeah, I went and read them in the wrong order. I’m not sorry, though; awful as High Noon was, I’m glad it wasn’t tainted for me by the total horror that is One Day.

What do I even say about One Day? Everything I can think of entails a level of profanity you don’t normally see on this blog. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Lady Betty Across the Water

May 20, 2010

So, Lady Betty Across the Water is by the Williamsons, but for the second Williamson book in a row, I was constantly reminded of Elinor Glyn. And this time, it wasn’t just a general feeling of Glynishness: my major recurring thought was, “this happened in Elizabeth Visits America, didn’t it?”

The answer, for about fifty percent of the events of Lady Betty, is yes. But apparently Lady Betty came first. I’m…actually probably going to have to work at not resenting it for that. Not that Elizabeth Visits America is significantly better, or that I didn’t really enjoy Lady Betty. It’s just that Elizabeth so embodies the kind of character that she and Lady Betty both are, that Lady Betty is always going to seem like an imitation. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Port of Adventure

September 27, 2009

"Nick thought her adorable in her gray motor bonnet"

"Nick thought her adorable in her gray motor bonnet"

The Port of Adventure is mostly typical Williamsons — part romance, part travelogue, and a dash of adventure — but something about it leaves an Elinor Glyn-ish taste in my mouth. Maybe it’s the girl from Europe (sort of) traveling through the U.S., as in Elizabeth Visits America, or the unhappy marriage to a European prince, as in The Reason Why and Three Weeks, or the villainess’ generally Glyn-ish aspect, or the red-haired, green-eyed writer who seems like she could have been based on Glyn herself. So, yeah, there are lots of reasons, and much as I enjoy the Williamsons, they don’t compare well when they try to edge into Glyn’s territory. They don’t have her flair for melodrama, or the sharp sense of humor that makes it bearable.

Still, I got pretty invested in the relationship between princess-by-marriage Angela, traveling as a young widow, and former cowboy Nick, using his new oil fortune to see more of the country. They really do seem to have things in common, beyond both being rich and good-looking, but it’s hard to believe that two people can simultaneously instinctively understand each other and constantly misinterpret each others’ actions. Also, there’s a scene where Nick rescues Angela from stampeding cattle in the canary yellow car he named after her, which is probably the most hilarious thing ever to happen in a Williamsons book.

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High Noon

July 7, 2007

So, remember Paul Verdayne from Three Weeks? An anonymous someone wanted to give him a happy ending, and wrote this sequel, High Noon. Sadly, it does not take place in the Western United States, although that would be hysterical. Instead, Paul returns to Switzerland and again falls in love with another mysterious Russian lady with black hair. It’s not really clear why, since right up until he falls in love with her he’s supposed to be indifferent to women. But apparently she resembles his “Queen” from Three Weeks, and then he decides that his Queen must have sent her, or something. And then he starts acting like every other man in every other early twentieth century trashy romance novel — well, half of them. The other half are creepy rapists like the hero of The Sheik.

But I suppose it doesn’t really matter if the plot makes any sense, because the writing is terrible. I mean, check this bit out:

“Oh! God,” he cried, out of the anguish of his soul, “what a hideous world! Beneath all this painted surface, this bedizened face of earth, lies naught but the yawning maw of the insatiable universe. This very lake, with its countenance covered with rippling smiles, is only a cruel monster waiting to devour. Everything, even the most beautiful, typifies the inexorable laws of Fate and the futility of man’s struggle with the forces he knows not.”

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Three Weeks

March 15, 2007

I haven’t been updating much lately because I’m home for spring break. With access to so many actual books, I don’t need to resort to etexts as often, and I haven’t found anything new. But then it occurred to me that I haven’t written about Elinor Glyn at all, which is kind of a weird omission.

The information I’ve been able to gather online suggest that Glyn’s only remaining claim to fame is that she was the person who first called sex appeal “It”. In fact, she wrote the book that the Clara Bow movie It was adapted from. She was well known as a writer of romance novels — you know, the intensely passionate, deeply felt kind. She also wrote some less serious ones, like the The Visits of Elizabeth, but those are only slightly less racy.

Her most sensational novel, Three Weeks, inspired a short poem:

Would you like to sin
With Elinor Glyn
On a tiger skin?

Or would you prefer
To err
With her
On some other fur?

Three Weeks is kind of hysterical, and since I’ve read it a couple of times, it’s the one I can most easily talk about without going back and rereading it. It is the story of a young Englishman, Paul Verdayne. He’s very young and beautiful and all that, but his mind is unformed and he has no appreciation of, you know, culture. Read the rest of this entry ?

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