Posts Tagged ‘he/she fell in love with his/her wife/husband’


Marcia Schuyler

December 23, 2015

I’m obviously falling down on the Christmas story job this year. Here, have another Grace Livingston Hill instead.

I’m not sure if Marcia Schuyler is considered typical of GLH’s output. It’s not typical of the books of hers that I’ve read, but it works really well for me. I mean, the religious stuff is a lot more palatable in a historical fiction context. (Sure, I kept giggling about David’s temperance newspaper, but I can’t fully explain that.) But also this is a he/she fell in love with his/her wife/husband book, and the protagonist overnight finds herself in possession of a dream house and a fabulous trousseau, and there’s an awful older sister, which I enjoy for probably the same reasons that I find inexplicably evil younger brothers difficult. The chances that I wasn’t going to like this book were very low.

I mean, I don’t love it, but I do like it a lot. It’s got more in common with things like Janice Meredith and To Have and to Hold than it does with GLH’s other books, but it’s also got her patented lack of self-awareness. Very few things are less charitable than her attitude towards characters she doesn’t like, and, much as I enjoy that, it’s so at odds with her professed philosophy that it kind of bugs me, too.

Anyway, Marcia Schuyler. She’s a teenage girl from an old and respected family in upstate New York, circa 1830. She’s smart and pretty and totally overshadowed by her beautiful older sister, Kate, who is an asshole. She also has a crush on Kate’s fiancé, David, but she’s not aware of it. It turns out to be sort of helpful, though, when Kate elopes with another man and her father basically offers Marcia to David as compensation. I’m pretty sure that even in 1830 this is a weird thing to do, but Marcia goes along with it and everyone stresses a lot about how they’ve deprived her of her womanhood, or something.

There are some things you want to happen here: you want Marcia and David to fall in love. You want Marcia to do well in her new environment. You want Kate to get her comeuppance and, very specifically, to be humiliated by David. All these things happen, against a backdrop of the launch of the first steam locomotive in New York State. It’s not a great book, but it’s very satisfying.


Vision House/8th Blogiversary

March 4, 2015

Today is the eighth anniversary of Redeeming Qualities. I’m not doing anything particularly special for the occasion, but it seemed like a good time to wrap up the Williamsons kick I’ve been on. Also — obviously — I want to thank everyone who reads the blog for sticking around. I started this blog figuring writing into the void about the books I was reading was better than talking about them to people who didn’t care, but that doesn’t mean I ever wanted there to actually be a void, and I really enjoy interacting with you guys.

Anyway. Brian said Vision House was his favorite Williamson book, so it seemed like a good one to read next. And…well, I can see why this would be someone’s favorite. It’s not mine. But it’s crazy. Read the rest of this entry ?


Cinderella Jane

November 25, 2011

Cinderella Jane, by Marjorie Benton Cooke, has a lot of things in it that I love. The quiet girl who cleans all the artists’ studios turns out to be awesome! And beautiful! The hero is kind of a dork! The heroine and this girl who was in love with the hero become best friends! He/she fell in love with his/her wife/husband! A wife in a mental institution! Read the rest of this entry ?


The Semi-Attached Couple

August 24, 2010

A couple of months ago, I was unexpectedly sent a boxful of Virago Modern Classics. One of them contained Emily Eden’s two novels, The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi-Detached House. People kept telling me as I was reading that they really liked the title of my book, and I kept having to explain that it was actually two books. The titles are still pretty good, I think.

There’s a quote on the back of this book — no, wait: there are three quotes on the back, and all three compare Eden to Jane Austen. One of them, the one I’ve seen several times before, says that Emily Eden is the person whose books you read when you’ve finished all of Austen. I hesitate to say I’ve read all of Jane Austen — I don’t feel like I need to read all of her juvenilia, and having read one of the unfinished novels, I’m not terribly interested in reading the other. I’m not sure if the number of times I’ve read Lady Susan counts for anything. Anyway, I’m a fan.

You can see the Jane Austen comparisons from the start of The Semi-Attached Couple, which was written in 1829, but not published until after the success of The Semi-Detached House, which was released in 1859. It’s set in the same sort of world as Pride and Prejudice, and one of the families seems intended to draw comparisons to the Bennetts, although for the most part Eden concentrates on the characters who move in similar circles to the Darcys and Bingleys. So, there are characters similar to Jane Austen’s. There are plot elements similar to Jane Austen’s. Emily Eden’s brand of gentle satire is similar to Jane Austen’s. As I read The Semi-Attached Couple, I began to feel really irritated that I had been introduced to Eden in terms of Austen. Read the rest of this entry ?


I’ve Married Marjorie

May 18, 2010

So, that “he/she fell in love with his/her wife/ husband” trope I was talking about a couple of weeks ago? Margaret Widdemer seems to be at least as fond of it as I am. I’ve Married Marjorie is the third of her books that I’ve read, and the second one where the hero and heroine get married long before their happy ending. It’s not as straightforward an example of the trope as The Rose-Garden Husband, but I don’t think that’s the reason that the book isn’t quite successful.

I wasn’t this angry about the book when I was reading it — I do find it easy to let a book’s internal logic take me where it will, and there was all this interesting, half-heartedly psychological stuff that reminded me of Eleanor Hallowell Abbott — but the more I think about it now, the less I like it. Read the rest of this entry ?


He Fell in Love with His Wife

April 26, 2010

For some reason I’ve always had a thing for stories where people get married for practical reasons and end up falling in love with each other. So when I came across Edward Payson Roe’s He Fell in Love with His Wife, I had to read it. It’s a pretty silly title, though, and I expected the book to be just like that: melodramatic and silly. But it wasn’t. Actually, I think it might be pretty good. Read the rest of this entry ?


Her Kingdom

October 6, 2009

Objectively, I’m pretty sure that Her Kingdom, by Amy Le Feuvre, is a terrible book. But it’s also old and fat and printed on thick, soft paper, and really nice to curl up on the couch with when the weather is beginning to get cool.

Anstice Barrett’s father has just died, leaving her almost penniless. She goes to her elderly cousin Lucy for advice, and Lucy tells her to marry Justin Holme, who is a bitter widower with three uncontrollable children. This is a totally ridiculous idea, made more so by the fact that Justin is only home about two months out of each year, that his house is in a very rural area, and also that Justin hates women. It’s so ridiculous that the only reason Amy Le Feuvre can come up with to have Anstice accept the offer is to that she’s haunted by a dream of drowning children. Or something. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Rose-Garden Husband

September 4, 2009

I finally followed a long-ago recommendation from Redeeming Qualities reader Elizabeth and read The Rose-Garden Husband, by Margaret Widdemer. And I love it. It’s so completely up my alley that it’s hard to believe it’s real. Read the rest of this entry ?


The White Linen Nurse

August 6, 2009

So, the real reason I keep reading things by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott is that every once in a while, I reread The Indiscreet Letter and fall in love with it all over again–with the Young Electrician, and the alternating pink and blue lisle undershirts, and the Traveling Salesman’s wife and the whole utterly impossible conversation. I reread it yesterday, so today of course I had to read The White Linen Nurse.

I love coming to something new by an author I’m pretty familiar with and recognizing all the things that make it impossible for it to have been written by anybody else. Especially when I realize new things about the author at the same time. So, The White Linen Nurse was like that, and as such I found it really interesting. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Purple Heights, 2/2

July 7, 2007

The second half of The Purple Heights is very different from the first. Chadwick Champneys sets out to find Anne Simms, commonly known as Nancy, and finds her working as a maid in the home of her mother’s stepsister. Nancy has red hair, freckles, and a bad temper.

Read the rest of this entry ?


The Purple Heights, 1/2

July 4, 2007

Oh, Marie Conway Oemler. Why are you so awesome? How many small, fictional, South Carolina towns have you created? What is it with the butterflies? Why aren’t there more of your books on Project Gutenberg? Is there, like, a fanclub I can join?

So, yeah, I enjoyed The Purple Heights. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Second Honeymoon

March 21, 2007

The Second Honeymoon, by Ruby Mildred Ayres, is another disappointing one. I mean, I like a story-extending romantic misunderstanding as much as the next person, but there’s got to be something else going on, too. And then, one misunderstanding can only take you so far unless you dither a lot. I frown upon dithering in fiction. Ayres does not. I read this after seeing an ad for it in the back of Little Old New York. I guess I’m going to be putting the other authors I found there on hold for a bit.

Jimmy Challoner is engaged to an actress named Cynthia Farrow. He passionately adores her. Unfortunately, he’s not all that well off — he’s dependent on his older brother, The Great Horatio. The Great Horatio is not a magician, but an invalid who mostly lives abroad and gives Jimmy a quarterly allowance. Several characters in this book comment on the fact that Jimmy could always, you know, go out and get a job, but since that’s dropped without really being resolved, we’re forced to assume that love is more important that paid employment. I mean, I get that love is more important than paid employment in novels like this, but you can’t just assume that it is; you have to make a case for it.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Who Cares?

March 11, 2007

I’ve been rereading Who Cares? by Cosmo Hamilton, whose name was actually Cosmo Gibbs and who happens to have been C. Aubrey Smith’s brother in law. I found this book about a year ago by browsing through the Project Gutenberg catalog alphabetically by title. Novels with questions for titles tend to be fun, and quite a few of them can be found under ‘W’.

Who Cares? is silly and overwrought, but I keep being seduced by the descriptors Hamilton uses for the hero and heroine: young, clean, honest, strong, etc. And somehow that’s always what I remember about this book, instead of the silliness.

Joan Ludlow lives with her grandparents in the country. Her mother used to live with them, too, but she has just remarried and gone away for her honeymoon, and so Joan is alone with her old grandparents and their old house full of their old servants and old dogs. And she’s bored out of her mind because her grandparents are strict and she’s full of youth and vigor and stuff.

Read the rest of this entry ?