Posts Tagged ‘1870s’

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Ruth Erskine’s Crosses

March 5, 2017

Ruth Erskine’s Crosses is in some ways my favorite and in some ways my least favorite of the Chautauqua Girls books. Ruth struggles with religion, and her struggle is meaty and complicated and relatable. But it’s also kind of a struggle to read—because of her slow progress and numerous setbacks, and because most of the time you can see exactly what she’s doing wrong and how she could fix it. That’s a big thing for Pansy/Isabella Alden—the idea that it’s a lot easier to see other people’s mistakes than your own. And on one hand, that’s exactly the kind of complexity I enjoy reading about, and on the other it’s very frustrating. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Chautauqua Girls at Home

February 27, 2017

The Chautauqua Girls at Home follows Flossy, Ruth, Marion and Eurie as they return home and attempt to live up to their new religious convictions. It’s full of the same kind of detailed soul-searching as Four Girls at Chautauqua, but it doesn’t have the first book’s neat arcs. Four Girls at Chautaqua was a very single-minded book. It had one task: to turn these four girls into Christians. This sequel has, probably, too much going on. Not that there’s anything I wanted left out—this is one of those books that’s packed with interesting things, but doesn’t give many of them enough space. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Four Girls at Chautauqua

February 23, 2017

I love a good conversion narrative. I think it’s because there’s no other context in which authors go so deep into their characters’ thought processes. Four Girls at Chautauqua is, like, 70% thought processes, and I really, really enjoyed it.

Yes, I have finally read a book by Pansy. I picked one of her books at random last week, and realized a chapter or two in that it was definitely the sequel to something. But I was already intrigued enough to want to start the series from the beginning rather than looking for something standalone to read instead. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The First Violin

December 6, 2016

When Alisha recommended Jessie Fothergill’s The First Violin, she mentioned Patricia Brent, Spinster and the Williamsons. Based on that, I guess I was expecting something romcom-like. That is not what I got, but I wasn’t disappointed.

The First Violin is the story of May Wedderburn, the middle daughter of an English vicar. Adelaide, the oldest, is the strong-willed ambitious one, and Stella, the youngest, is smart and practical. May herself is dreamy, idealistic, and musical.

Her uneventful life is interrupted by the arrival of Sir Peter Le Marchant (wealthy, older, creepy as fuck). He wants to marry May, presumably so he can make her life miserable, but she wants nothing to do with him. She’s rescued by a neighbor, Miss Hallam, who is going to Germany to consult an eye doctor. She offers to bring May along as her companion and promises to arrange for singing lessons. Read the rest of this entry ?

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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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Mae Madden

April 25, 2011

I have no idea why I decided to read this book. I clicked on a random author name on Project Gutenberg — Mary Murdoch Mason — and there was one title there — Mae Madden — and I thought, “that’s a lot of initial Ms,” and read it.

I’m not sure how much else I have to say about it.

Mae is a nineteen year old American girl traveling in Europe with her two brothers, her friend Edith, Edith’s mother, and Edith’s cousin Norman Mann, who is presumably named that so that Mae can have an additional initial M when they get married. But first she has to get entangled with a flirtatious Piedmontese officer.

The book is completely fine, I guess. The dialogue is a bit above average, and there are some nifty psychological bits, although I wish the book as a whole had been less down on the concept of young women having fun and taking care of themselves, but: fine. Totally, totally fine.

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The Leavenworth Case Redux

June 17, 2010

It really is pretty.

It’s difficult to know how to write this, because I’ve already read and written about The Leavenworth Case, and, as you may recall, I didn’t like it very much. But last month at BookBloggerCon, when it seemed sometimes like all anyone wanted to talk about was the art of acquiring review copies, I kept thinking about it.

I’d seen on The Bunburyist that Penguin had just put out a new edition of The Leavenworth Case, and that the cover was really attractive. So I guess it was a little bit because of the cover art, and a little bit because I felt like the book was worth revisiting, and a little bit because I wanted to see if someone would really send me a review copy, when all I’ve done in the past is recommend etexts. Read the rest of this entry ?