Posts Tagged ‘historical’


When Knighthood Was in Flower

February 22, 2011

When Knighthood Was in Flower, by Charles Major, was the #9 bestselling book of 1900. On one hand that was a relief, because it would have been horrifying to find that it sold better than To Have and To Hold or Janice Meredith, both of which were, you know, good. On the other hand, it’s worrying to think that this book was a bestseller at all, since it’s kind of terrible. Actually, I can’t think of anything I liked about it. Or, I don’t know, the title is okay, I guess. If by “knighthood” you mean “being fickle and selfish.” And there’s one sort of entertaining bit in which Charles Brandon imagines going to New Spain and pining for Mary Tudor: “I shall find the bearing of Paris, and look in her direction until my brain melts in my effort to see her, and then I shall wander in the woods, a suffering imbecile, feeding on roots and nuts.” I don’t know what kind of success he’d have with the roots and nuts, but believe me, he’s got the suffering imbecile part down. Read the rest of this entry ?


Reviews at EP: To Have and to Hold

November 28, 2010

My Edwardian Promenade guest post for November is up: To Have and to Hold, by Mary Johnston. It’s much later than usual, I know,  but it’s practically the only era-appropriate thing I’ve read all month.


Christmas Stories: The Truce of God

December 22, 2009

So, it should come as no surprise that I think Mary Roberts Rinehart is awesome. And part of the reason for that is that she’s always at least a little bit surprising. I had no idea what to expect from The Truce of God, her Christmas story, and I’m not altogether sure what I think of it now, but I’m definitely impressed.

First of all, the Truce of God is a pretty cool thing to write about. During the eleventh century, the European nobility  were referred to as “those who fight” (as opposed to “those who work” and “those who pray”), because basically they spent most of their time fighting private wars against their neighbors (or their overlords’ neighbors). The church dealt with this in a few different ways. One was the Crusades. Another was the Truce of God. Basically, the Church said, “Hey, no one is allowed to fight on weekends anymore. Or Thursdays. Or Lent, etc.”  The Catholic Encyclopedia has a little more detail, if you’re interested (in general, it’s a good basic resource for medieval religious history). Read the rest of this entry ?


Janice Meredith

December 11, 2009

Usually I do a little bit of research on a book before I write about it — not much beyond googling the title and author to make sure I haven’t missed anything important. So I took a look at Wikipedia this morning, and while I didn’t learn anything about Janice Meredith that I didn’t already know (bestseller in 1900, made into a silent movie), when I looked up Paul Leicester Ford, I discovered to following: he was murdered in 1902 by his brother Malcolm, a famous athlete, who then shot himself. Nothing to do with the book, I guess, but any chance that I was going to forget who Paul Leicester Ford was is now gone.

Not that I really thought I would forget, because Janice Meredith is pretty good. It’s sort of like Under Two Flags, only set during the American Revolution, and about one fifth as ridiculous.
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Happy Captain Blood Day!

September 19, 2009

So, September 19th is the day Peter Blood is sentenced to slavery in Barbados — if he’d been tried any sooner, he would have just been sentenced to death, instead of having the opportunity to become the coolest pirate ever. So you should celebrate, preferably by reading — or rereading — some Sabatini. Here are a few suggestions. Read the rest of this entry ?


The First Sir Percy

January 9, 2009

I’m not exactly sure why I chose to read The First Sir Percy, the book following The Laughing Cavalier, but I suspect it had something to do with The First Sir Percy being only abut half as long as its predecessor. Anyway, I’m glad I did.

Diogenes, Frans Hals’ Laughing Cavalier, is back. He has, since the last book, discovered that his real name is Percy Blakeney, and he also, for no reason except that Baroness Orczy seemed to feel it was necessary, has been knighted. He acts much more like his eponymous descendent now. He pretends to be stupid and cowardly —  as well as blind and drunk — and even starts using some of the same exclamations as Sir Percy. He’s not really Sir Percy, but he reminds one of him, which is a big help. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Laughing Cavalier

December 25, 2008

I forget, now, whether The Scarlet Pimpernel was my first adventure novel. I’m pretty sure that I read it before The Three Musketeers, The Four Feathers, The Prisoner of Zenda, or Scaramouche (my first Sabatini). So there was this time when The Scarlet Pimpernel was the only great adventure novel I had read. And it coincided with a time in my early teens when I was just discovering the wealth of reading material available on the internet. And during that time, I came dangerously close to joining the online Scarlet Pimpernel fandom.

See, I found this website called Blakeney Manor, and they had the texts of about twenty Scarlet Pimpernel sequels and prequels. Which is, you know, a lot of books. For free. Somehow related to a book that I loved. And if the first one I read hadn’t been so silly, I might have read them all. So I’m pretty thankful that I decided to read them in chronological order, and that the one I started with was The Laughing Cavalier. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Fortunes of Fifi

June 11, 2007

A while back Danielle at A Work in Progress posted a bunch of advertisementsfrom the back of a book that had been published in 1907. The most entertaining one was for a book by Molly Elliot Seawell called The Fortunes of Fifi. I said I’d look out for it, but somehow I never thought to look for it on Google Books ’til the other day. It’s there, freely downloadable as a pdf. I’m kind of entertained by the way they scan things for Google Books — they scan every single page, even the ones that haven’t got anything on them, so each illustration is followed by a blank page; the other side of the thicker, shinier paper used for the illustrations.

So, The Fortunes of Fifi is pretty entertaining. Fifi is a nineteen year-old actress working in a fourth-rate theater in Paris. It’s 1804, and Napoleon is just about to be crowned emperor.
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Little Old New York: Pictures

March 20, 2007

 So, apparently I’m incapable of holding my camera still while it takes a picture. Also, I can’t turn the flash on. So when tried to photograph the illustrations from Little Old New York, they all ended up dark and blurry. But some of them weren’t quite as awful after I’d fiddled with them, and here those are. I miss the scanner on my broken printer.

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Little Old New York

March 19, 2007

Yesterday I read Little Old New York, by Rida Johnson Young. I wasn’t going to write about things that weren’t available for free online, but to hell with that. This way I get to talk about pictures!

Anyway, I found this book at my grandparents’ apartment last year along with an early Edward Stratemeyer book, two or three Pollyanna sequels, an attractive edition of The Mill on the Floss, and maybe a couple of other things too. At the time, it was the part of my haul I was most excited about it, so I wanted to save it for last, and then I forgot about it and didn’t pick it up again until I needed something to read on the train back from school yesterday. Read the rest of this entry ?