Novel 035: Mrs. E.J. Burbury, Florence Sackville; or, Self-Dependence

 
 Thomas Sully, Fanny Kemble

Thomas Sully, Fanny Kemble

 

Financial vicissitudes drive a virtuous young lady to  support herself and her family by acting in a provincial theater.


Nothing is known of Mrs. E.J. Burbury, author of only this single novel.  She appears to have tried to fit into it every noteworthy experience she ever had, whether working in theater (the miserable conditions of which, especially for women, are vividly portrayed), or driving through Oxford by moonlight.  It makes for fascinating reading, despite some mawkishness.

The author has a “clear appreciation of humour and of pathos--a firm hand in noting down the boundary lines and salient features of character, and a constancy...to the...purpose of her story.”  Athenaeum, November 11, 1851

"It is refreshing to take up a romance and to find it is not altogether an unmitigated profitless ‘love story’....Mrs. Burbury’s style is vigorous and effective, and the scenes she depicts, the characters she delineates, and the conversations she supposes, bear the stamp of a truthfulness, a penetration, and a depth of feeling, which would do honour to one who had been longer before the public.  That part of the story which relates to the theatrical career Florence is with repugnance compelled to adopt...is handled in a fearless and masterly style.”  New Quarterly Review, January, 1852

Download this week's novel here:

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/OXVU1:LSCOP_OX:oxfaleph014284777

Novel 028: Lucas Malet, Colonel Enderby's Wife (1885)

 
 Hubert von Herkomer, Clematis

Hubert von Herkomer, Clematis

 

A quiet middle-aged man falls in love with a beautiful but strangely childlike young woman.


Mary St. Leger Harrison (1852-1931) was the daughter of novelist and reformer Charles Kingsley.  Under the pseudonym Lucas Malet, she wrote some 16 novels beginning in 1882; this one, amid more commentary on the human condition than might seem altogether necessary, presents vivid characters in helpless conflict.

“In these days of hurried workmanship it is a welcome contrast to encounter a story which combines imagination, observation and finish in such a high degree.  This is no sketch, but a whole gallery of portraits which have not suffered from the author’s elaborate method, but only gained in lifelikeness”; even if “the author, especially in her moralizing moods, is too uniformly, and perhaps consciously, clever.” Athenaeum, June 6, 1885

The novel's style has “a quiet self-confidence and reserved power”; the author is “vivid and effective in her descriptions, and telling in her portraitures”; but “there is a morbid strain running through it; one is tempted to ask whether the imagination which conceived and executed this book has not a touch of inflammation.” Literary World, July 11, 1885

“It is poignant, grievously pathetic, a fateful, disheartening book, but it is unquestionably clever.” “Everything in ‘Colonel Enderby's Wife’ is clever--the talk, the author’s pessimistic reflections, the arrangement of incident...and above all the delineation of character."  Westminster Review, October, 1885

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http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/OXVU1:LSCOP_OX:oxfaleph014443744

 

Novel 027: Marian James, A Lord of Creation (1857)

 
 William Powell Frith, The Proposal

William Powell Frith, The Proposal

 

A virtuous young lady falls in love with the companion of her childhood, her guardian's nephew.


Marian James wrote five novels and a few stories between 1854 and 1872; I can discover nothing else about her.  This one-volume novel, with a plot involving inheritance and betrothal, is most notable, as the reviews suggest, for its characters, especially the anti-hero to which the title ironically refers.

“It is a clever, carefully written, though slight story, without much incident,—but that little is delicately and dexterously handled, and the result is an interesting and very readable book.  The interest turns on the delineation of the different characters, especially of ... the ‘Lord of the Creation,’ who gives the title to the book” Athenaeum, September 26, 1857

The simple plot “gains a pervading charm from excellent treatment.  The story flows on with calm earnest directness, and towards the end becomes riveting in its interest; the language, every where adequate, is nowhere pretentious... Character, however, is the writer’s forte.  Every person...is a separate study...rendered with that true art which involves not only the knowledge of human nature, but the knowledge of delineating it.”  National Magazine, November, 1857

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http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_0000000452BE#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0&xywh=-719%2C-124%2C2880%2C2475

 

Crossword 026: Rejection

 
 William Powell Frith, The Rejected Poet

William Powell Frith, The Rejected Poet

 

Today's puzzle is a prequel to the one published yesterday in the Los Angeles Times—that is, the theme of this puzzle is related to that of the other as cause to effect.  I built the puzzle around 29 Across, the basis for which I have since learned is not so common a phrase as I had supposed.  Google's ngram viewer shows that the phrase reached a peak around 1820, held steady through 1910, and then began a precipitous decline.  This is a pity, for the unhappy state of mind it tersely describes is a defining feature of human experience, one given frequent attention in Victorian novels, and one I'm delighted to reconceive, through the miracle of cruciverbalism, as a comically self-conceited anthropomorphic bird.


Download this week's crossword:

026-Rejection.puz

026-Rejection.pdf

Novel 026: Elizabeth Darby Eiloart, The Love that Lived (1874)

 
 James Sant, The Bride

James Sant, The Bride

 

In a small town, a radical clerk is rescued from drowning by a rich young gentleman whom he resents; as it happens, the two men are connected by their parents' secret past.


Elizabeth Darby Eiloart (1827-1898) wrote some 18 novels for adults (and several more for children) between 1865 and 1883; she specialized in middle-class characters and concerns, which emerge sharply in this novel, despite a charmingly silly plot.

“All Mrs. Eiloart’s books are honest books, spiced with independence of thought, and sweetened with a pleasant humour.”  This novel “breathes the fresh air of the country"; “its characters are true to life.”  Academy, July 18, 1874

Eiloart's “books are original and fascinating; they contain good plots, plenty of incident, and well described and distinctive characters.”  This is “one of the best and most interesting novels of the season.”  Morning Post, August 25, 1874

“Apart from the plot...Mrs. Eiloart’s novel is refreshingly and unaffectedly real.  There is nothing high-flown, nothing morbid in its tone.”  It “is not only a love-story.  It is a political story.  Conservatives and Radicals, rich and poor, the old school and the new, are all faithfully represented....This is one of the most pleasing and interesting novels of the season.”  Examiner, August 29 1874

Download this week's novel:

vol. 1 http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_000000047580#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=4&xywh=-460%2C-181%2C3652%2C2238

vol. 2 http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_000000046A6A#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=4&xywh=-410%2C0%2C3265%2C200

vol. 3: http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_000000046A5E#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=4&xywh=-379%2C-1%2C3329%2C204