The eleven motherless children of a town doctor grow up.
I have featured over 50 novelists during this website’s first year; I now return to some favorites, and first to Charlotte Yonge (Post 003). She is not utterly forgotten—there is a website devoted to her work, run by a club which also publishes a journal—but in a properly ordered world she would have at least as many readers as, say, Charles Dickens. If her religiosity seems tedious to the modern reader (as it did even to many of her contemporaries), so does Dickens’s sentimentality. But like Dickens she creates a vivid, unforgettable world like that of no other writer, one in which the sympathetic reader cannot spend too much time. This is the first of the long (it is half as long again as the average three-volume Victorian novel) “family chronicles” that represent her most distinctive work.
“Each character speaks so naturally for itself that the reader seems to be one of the ‘Chain,’ and sitting in family conclave round the hearth.... So many young heroes and heroines with their instructors” allow Yonge “ample opportunities for exercising her peculiar genius for minute sketches of character.” Athenaeum, April 5, 1856
“This work is...a minutely detailed, and highly finished picture of one of our dear English homes, with its loves and losses, trials and triumphs. Here our authoress is in her element, depicting home scenes, and home ease and freedom: she evidently delights in the little social kingdom she creates. This lady is alone in the beauty with which she delineates children’s characters”; they are “real flesh and blood, treading their paths with stumbles and falls like the rest of us.” British Quarterly Review, July 1856
The characters “become as familiar to us as real acquaintances... Reading the ‘Daisy Chain’ is like taking a walk through a plain country, which does not appear romantic at first sight” and feeling “the sense of living joy which animates creation.” New Quarterly Review, July 1856
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