Novel 100: Mary Louisa Molesworth, Leona (1892)

 
James Sant, A Thorn Amidst the Roses

James Sant, A Thorn Amidst the Roses

 

Two cousins grow interested in the same man.


Here, to follow last week’s Mary Molesworth, is the Victorian period’s other Mary Molesworth, Mary Louisa Molesworth (1838-1921) a prolific author mainly of children’s books, though she also wrote novels for adults, like this one—a quiet story based on plausible, entertaining misunderstandings of character and purpose.

“It is a very enjoyable book. The characters of the young men and girls who are the principal persons in the little narrative drama are, in the main, admirably delineated; . . . and the conversation, which is an important element in a tale of this kind, is specially excellent.” Academy, October 15, 1892

“The characters are well drawn, the incidents probable and well led up to, and the story interesting.  But the strong point of the work, after all, lies in the character drawing, especially in the subtle delineation of shades of diversity in disposition, amongst a family where all the members are chiefly remarkable for their amiability and worth.” Westminster Review, July 1893

Download this week’s novel:

http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_000000033A32

Novel 098: Elizabeth Stone, Mr. Dalton's Legatee, a Very Nice Woman (1850)

 
William Powell Frith, The Toilet

William Powell Frith, The Toilet

 

A disobedient daughter's disinheritance leads to the enrichment of a socially ambitious woman.


In addition to historical works on such subjects as needlework, Elizabeth Stone (1803-1881) wrote five novels.  Here, the bad characters are excellent, especially the “very nice woman,” and the plot is amusing if you don’t mind a final pile of coincidence impressive even by contemporary standards.

“The apeing of fashion by vulgar people, the wretchedness it occasions to themselves, and the laughter it provokes in others, have ever been a favourite . . . theme with novelists . . .; but seldom have we seen it accomplished with more humour and truth than in the novel before us. . . .  Always vigorous, the writing is at times positively brilliant.  The descriptions are remarkably graphic, yet drawn without effort. . . .  The personages . . . are all . . . distinctly outlined, and most of them are manifestly sketches after nature.  Mrs. Stone has a keen observation, and a quick sense of the ludicrous.” Critic, August 1, 1850

“Although ‘Mr. Dalton’s Legatee’ properly belongs to a class of books for which we have no particular affection—the fashionable novels—yet it is one of the best of its kind. The plot is intricate and interesting, and the characters amusing and well sustained.” American Whig Review, October, 1850

Download this week’s novel:

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=oxfaleph014517497&context=L&vid=SOLO&search_scope=LSCOP_ALL&tab=local&lang=en_US

Crossword 097: Nondairy Substitutes

 
John Callcott Horsley, Youth and Age

John Callcott Horsley, Youth and Age

 

Okay, so it's the same joke four times.  So what?  It's a good joke.  And the fourth iteration (64 Across) is not just a joke, it's also a wry comment on the human condition.


Download this week’s crossword:

097-Nondairy-Substitutes.puz

097-Nondairy-Substitutes.pdf

Solve this week’s crossword online:

097 Nondairy Substitutes


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A crossword of mine appeared yesterday, Friday, September 27, in The Los Angeles Times (and The Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, The San Francisco Chronicle, etc.)


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A crossword of mine will appear Wednesday, October 2, in the Wall Street Journal.


Crossword 096: As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap

 
Stanhope Alexander Forbes, Feeding the Pigs

Stanhope Alexander Forbes, Feeding the Pigs

 

Speaking of pork, here is one of my favorite passages from the great Jonathan Swift, explaining the popularity of satire—and by the way, much of the social media of our own time:

"There is a problem in an ancient author, why dedications, and other bundles of flattery, run all upon stale musty topics, without the smallest tincture of any thing new; . . . whereas there is very little satire, which has not something in it untouched before. The defects of the former, are usually imputed to the want of invention among those, who are dealers in that kind; but, I think, with a great deal of injustice; the solution being easy and natural; for, the materials of panegyric, being very few in number, have been long since exhausted. For, as health is but one thing, and has been always the same, whereas diseases are by thousands, beside new and daily additions; so, all the virtues that have been ever in mankind, are to be counted upon a few fingers; but their follies and vices are innumerable, and time adds hourly to the heap. Now the utmost a poor poet can do, is to get by heart a list of the cardinal virtues, and deal them with his utmost liberality to his hero, or his patron: he may ring the changes as far as it will go, and vary his phrase till he has talked round: but the reader quickly finds it is all pork, with a little variety of sauce."


Download this week’s crossword:

096-As-Ye-Sow-So-Shall-Ye-Reap.puz

096-As-Ye-Sow-So-Shall-Ye-Reap.pdf

Solve this week’s crossword online:

096 As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap

Novel 096: Will Payne, The Story of Eva (1901)

 
Alson Skinner Clark, The Coffee House

Alson Skinner Clark, The Coffee House

 

Having abandoned her adulterous husband, a young woman makes a life for herself in Chicago.


Will Payne (1865-1954) wrote nine novels between 1896 and 1929.  The description in the first half of the novel of a woman’s working life in turn-of-the-century Chicago is especially interesting.

“It has been said that Chicago is fatal to any imaginative gifts, and that no novel of that city has ever risen above mediocrity.  An exception must be made in favor of a new novel of strong realism which pictures several phases of Chicago life with remarkable vividness and yet contains much of the spiritual quality that relieves its materialism. . . . The story as a whole is admirably constructed and true to life. . . .  In all the passages that bear on the working girls of Chicago the author shows singular closeness of observation, mingled with much sympathy.” San Francisco Chronicle, June 30, 1901

“The book is readable, and interesting to any one who wishes to hear about the way of life of the middle classes of Chicago.” Spectator, August 10, 1901

“Mr. Payne’s writing is not of the kind which arrests or startles.  Rather it compels attention to detail, to a word here, a phrase there; but the portrait which is left at the end is whole and in proportion, while the background is filled in with due regard to the high lights which the painter wishes to emphasise.” Saturday Review, September 14, 1901

Download this week’s novel:

https://books.google.com/books?id=yAVFAQAAMAAJ&dq=will%20payne%20story%20of%20eva&pg=PP7#v=onepage&q=will%20payne%20story%20of%20eva&f=false

Crossword 095: Anntheme

 
James Sant, Caroline, 3rd Countess of Mount Edgcumbe with Her Two Youngest Children, Charles and Ernestine

James Sant, Caroline, 3rd Countess of Mount Edgcumbe with Her Two Youngest Children, Charles and Ernestine

 

Today is my beloved mother's birthday.  Alert solvers might be able, on the basis of this puzzle's title and theme answers, to guess her name. 


Download this week’s crossword:

095-Anntheme.puz

095-Anntheme.pdf

Solve this week's crossword online:

095 Anntheme


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A crossword of mine will appear Thursday, September 19, in the Wall Street Journal


Novel 095: Mrs. A.B. Church, Measure for Measure (1862)

 
Edward John Poynter, A Day Dream

Edward John Poynter, A Day Dream

 

A young lady is tormented by a secret sorrow.


About Mrs. A.B. Church nothing is known except that she wrote four novels between 1860 and 1881, of which this is the second.  The arbitrary mystification at the beginning is a bit annoying, but the novel improves greatly as it goes on; the portrait of the villain who appears in the latter half is especially good.

“Without being a striking story, ‘Measure for Measure’ is pleasing and interesting, and there is a refinement about the author’s style which might recommend an even less remarkable production.” Morning Post, September 3, 1862

“This is a novel with a clever plot, skilfully and lightly telling its tale through the sort of conversation that a woman finds and makes . . . when she forms part of society in an English village near a small country town.” Examiner, September 6, 1862

Download this week’s novel:

v.1 https://archive.org/details/measureformeasur01chur

v.2 https://archive.org/details/Measureformeasur02churBwFIXED

v.3 https://archive.org/details/measureformeasur03chur

Crossword 094: Ear Tags

 
William Powell Frith, The New Earrings

William Powell Frith, The New Earrings

 

Poking holes in our ears so as to dangle ornamental objects from them—isn't it a little ugly and foolish, when you come to think about it?  Attaching metal things that emit radio frequencies to the ears of livestock so as to keep track of them is at least practical.  Has anyone thought of combining these in a movie, involving a creepy stalker and a gift of earrings? "The Piercing," it might be called.  If you’re a movie producer and you'd like to buy an option on the idea, let me know.


Download this week’s crossword:

094-Ear-Tags.puz

094-Ear-Tags.pdf

Solve this week's crossword online:

094 Ear Tags

Novel 094: Christiana Jane Douglas, The Heir of Ardennan (1852)

 
Sir Daniel McNee, A Lady in Grey Prints

Sir Daniel McNee, A Lady in Grey Prints

 

A poor but virtuous Scottish girl falls in love.


Christiana Jane Douglas (1822-1887) (later Mrs. Charles Greenall Davies) wrote some 10 novels between 1845 and 1885.  This one features excellent plotting and characterization—until both are sacrificed to eke out the last volume with a silly lovers’ misunderstanding.  (Such plot twists, in which well-meaning, intelligent characters jump to idiotic conclusions about each other that they never think to question or confirm, are the bane of Victorian fiction; no doubt they were useful in keeping hero and heroine apart for the requisite three volumes.)

“The chief merit, and a great one it is, of ‘The Heir of Ardennan,’ is that we find a genuine, a true thing; nothing is introduced for effect, which violates nature or probability. We find in this work, not only a singularly interesting story, but characters drawn with such a rare felicity, that it is hard to believe but that they are portraits from life.” Bentley’s Miscellany, January 1, 1852.

“A feminine perception of small points in appearance and manners, minute in themselves but conducive in the aggregate to great truth and naturalness, forms the distinguishing feature of this novel.” Spectator, January 31, 1852.

“Her delineation of character, her deep sense alike of the beautiful and of the ludicrous, and the skill with which she sketches the various peculiarities of her dramatis personae, are worthy of a high encomium.” New Quarterly Review, April 1852.

Download this week’s novel:

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=oxfaleph014412298&context=L&vid=SOLO&search_scope=LSCOP_ALL&tab=local&lang=en_US

Crossword 093: Success Stories

 
William Etty, Pandora Crowned by the Seasons

William Etty, Pandora Crowned by the Seasons

 

If you just work hard and believe in yourself, there is nothing you cannot accomplish!—with a few possible exceptions: a living wage, for example, and good health, and maybe some other things too. But never mind: here are some exemplary stories (or titles of stories anyway; you can easily imagine the rest) to inspire you on your way along life's journey.


Download this week’s crossword:

093-Success-Stories.puz

093-Success-Stories.pdf

Solve this week's crossword online:

093 Success Stories


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A puzzle of mine will appear Friday, September 6, in Universal Crosswords



Novel 093: G.M. Robins, The Ides of March (1892)

 
Edith Hayllar, A Summer Shower

Edith Hayllar, A Summer Shower

 

An upright man unjustly judges the woman who jilted his friend.


Gertrude Minnie Robins (1861-1939) wrote some fifty novels, beginning in 1886.  This one cleverly handles a plausible series of misperceptions and misplaced loyalties. 

“Miss Robins has achieved a real success in The Ides of March. . . . The two principal personages . . . are drawn with unusual skill and vigour. . . .   There is not one weakly-drawn character in the whole story. . . . Society in a sleepy cathedral city is happily hit off, and there are many wise as well as witty things in the course  of the three volumes.” Academy, January 16, 1892

“This is a curious and, we must say, ingeniously constructed story. . . . The social sketches are good, and on the whole The Ides of March . . . is a novel that may be recommended.” Spectator, February 6, 1892

Download this week’s novel:

v.1 http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_000000050FB8#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0&xywh=-995%2C-123%2C3439%2C2454

v.2 http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_000000050FBE#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=8&xywh=-96%2C0%2C2603%2C1857

v.3 http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_000000050FC4#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0&xywh=-1003%2C-124%2C3448%2C2461

Novel 092: Sarah MacNaughtan, The Fortune of Christina McNab (1901)

 
John Lavery, Portrait of a Lady in a Green Coat

John Lavery, Portrait of a Lady in a Green Coat

 

A newly rich young middle-class Scotswoman pays a friend’s aristocratic cousin to introduce her into society


Sarah MacNaughtan (1864-1916) wrote about a dozen novels, beginning in 1898, mostly clever social comedies like this one.

“This is a quite admirable story”; the author “relieves his [sic] fun with a delicate touch of pathos.” Spectator, November 16, 1901.

“The story has both shrewdness and humour”; it is based on “direct observation. . . .. Some of the character sketches . . . are excellent.” Academy, November 23, 1901

“A really readable and lively story.” Detroit Free Press, November 30, 1901

Download this week’s novel:

https://archive.org/details/fortuneofchristi00macnuoft/

Crossword 091: Lost Arts

 
John Evans Hodgson, Holbein's Studio

John Evans Hodgson, Holbein's Studio

 

I once thought to use this puzzle's title (in the singular) as a theme answer.  The clue would have been about Paul Simon, who "lost Art"—Garfunkel, that is—in 1970. And the Wilson brothers "found Love," their cousin Mike, to form the Beach Boys.  But then what?  Did any group throw "Iris Out"?  or decide to "Keep Faith" after all? or to "Kill Joy"?  I couldn't make it work.  So I invite all you aspiring crossword constructors in need of a theme to apply to me for permission to adopt it, which I will grant free of charge if I find you worthy of my benevolence. Just email me a statement of financial need and an autobiographical essay on how you overcame an obstacle.


Download this week’s crossword:

091-Lost-Arts.puz

091-Lost-Arts.pdf

Solve this week's crossword online:

091 Lost Arts