Novel 039: Margaret Hunt, Mrs. Juliet (1892)

 
Philip Calderon, Juliet

Philip Calderon, Juliet

 

A virtuous young lady, secretly married, is forced to live with her rich, vulgar, art-collecting aunt.


Margaret Hunt, née Raines (1831-1912), who sometimes wrote as Averil Beaumont, sometimes as Mrs. Alfred Hunt (her husband was a well-known painter) produced about a dozen novels beginning in 1872, the last completed by her daughter Violet, also a novelist, and the consort of Ford Madox Ford, the best known novelist of the three.  This novel, the gripping plot of which begins in domestic comedy and ends in sensationalistic mystery, represents its varied and amusing characters in a brisk style.

Despite themes long familiar from “tri-voluminous fiction, the author...has managed to produce a fresh, attractive, and decidedly entertaining story.” Athenaeum, December 31, 1892

“Mrs. Alfred Hunt is a writer whose narratives go along smoothly enough, and whose persons have the breath of life."  Saturday Review, January 21, 1893

The heroine’s troubles “are related with a vivacity which goes far to relieve their dismalness....The story is a very good one, with plenty of excitement in the matter of plot, and at least one admirably drawn character.”  Spectator, March 25, 1893

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v.3 http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_00000004DD4E#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=6&xywh=-693%2C-1%2C3791%2C1951

 

Novel 038: Henry Cuyler Bunner, The Midge (1886)

 
John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Miss Dorothy Vickers

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Miss Dorothy Vickers

 

An eccentric New York bachelor adopts an orphaned French-English waif.


Henry Cuyler Bunner (1855-1896) was better known for his stories and plays than his two novels.  This, the first, is a brief comedy of situation, delightful except for its odd ending.

“A slight yet charming study of life in the French quarter of New York."  Eclectic Magazine, July, 1886

The plot is “gracefully and artistically handled”;“the story is rich in sensitive passages, both humor and pathos being well portrayed."  Advance, October 7, 1886

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Novel 036: Emily Eden, The Semi-Detached House (1858)

 
James Tissot, Autumn on the Thames

James Tissot, Autumn on the Thames

 

An aristocratic young lady, prevented by her pregnancy from accompanying her diplomat husband overseas, shares a “semi-detached house” with a middle class family.


Emily Eden (1787-1869), daughter of a baron and sister of an earl, wrote only two novels, of which this quiet, pleasant work of social comedy is the second, though the first to be published.

“A piece of real life, sketched by a spectator full of shrewd sense and a genial spirit of fun.”  Spectator, August 6, 1858

“The purpose of this book, in so far as it has a purpose, is to teach us to take life easily and frankly...that we should not be too much pleased at speaking to persons of superior rank, nor too anxious to avoid those who may be below us”; the story is slight, but has “sparkling dialogue...good subsidiary characters, and...cheerful and habitual good sense.”  Saturday Review, August 27, 1858

“Character painting so entirely unpretending in its manner, and so perfect of its sort, as that which gives to this novel its value as a work of art, is not often to be found.”  Examiner, August 27, 1858

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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

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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 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

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Novel 025: Margaret Paul, Martha Brown, the Heiress (1861)

 
Richard Buckner, Margaret Laetitia, Lady Western, née Bushby

Richard Buckner, Margaret Laetitia, Lady Western, née Bushby

 

An heiress loves a poor but proud young surgeon.


Margaret Agnes Paul, née Colvile (1829–1905) wrote a dozen novels between 1856 and 1886, of which this was the fifth.  Just one volume, like many of her works, this has a good plot drawn from ordinary life, and a few vivid characters.

“A very pleasant evening’s reading--clever, sensible, brief, lively, and refined....  It is sometimes a relief to read a novel which is good enough to admire, and not powerful enough for even a pretence to immortality.” Spectator, November 9, 1861

“interesting and original...related in a sharp, concise manner, which renders it very pleasant reading.” Athenaeum, November 9, 1861

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http://dbooks.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/books/PDFs/600071637.pdf

 

Novel 024: Mary Cholmondeley, Red Pottage (1899)

 
James Jebusa Shannon, Lady Marjorie Manners

James Jebusa Shannon, Lady Marjorie Manners

 

A young novelist lives with her clerical brother, while her friend grows to love a man with a dubious past and a secret problem.


Mary Cholmondeley (1859-1925) wrote ten novels between 1887 and 1913; according to some reviewers, this one outsold all the other novels of 1899.  Its self-satisfied clergyman is a unique creation, not to be missed.

The plot is “ingenious, original, and abounding in strong dramatic situations”; Cholmondeley “understands the art of making her characters not merely thrill us at crises, but interest us in the normal intervening spaces of their lives”; despite some blemishes, “criticism is disarmed by the freshness, the strength, and the pathos of this brilliant and exhilarating novel, by far the most exciting and original of the present season.”  Spectator, October 28, 1899

"A clever, well-told story.  The emotional feeling is not of a common sort, and the outlook on modern life and manners is touched with vivacity, with something of subtlety even.” Cholmondeley provides “close and, at times, humorous observation of character....produced with a light touch and an admirable absence of the descriptive manner.”  “Never aggressively witty nor epigrammatic, she yet often says a good thing in a way that makes one wonder why it has not been said before, or not in the same fresh or whimsical fashion.”  Athenaeum, November 11, 1899

The “central incident” is “improbable,” “but the insight into character, the vivid interpretation of a woman’s mind, and the happy gift of satire displayed by Miss Cholmondeley raise her book at once to a very high level.  She has a marvelous knack of portraying an unconscious fool, male or female, and one or two of her characters will live in her readers’ memories.  She has an admirable sense of style, and she knows the world of which she writes.”  Saturday Review, November 11, 1899

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https://archive.org/details/ra556450500choluoft

Novel 021: Alice Price, Who Is Sylvia? (1883)

 
Augustus Leopold Egg, Unknown Woman 

Augustus Leopold Egg, Unknown Woman 

 

A virtuous young lady endures various improbable accidents and misunderstandings.


Alice Price (1840-1891) wrote seven novels between 1883 and 1892, of which this is the first.  Its plot is full of exciting surprises; its characters are well delineated.

“Few recent novels can boast of so excellent a plot, of such remarkably well-drawn characters, and of the variety of incidents that is to be found in Who is Sylvia?.”  Morning Post, February 1, 1883

“This novel may be read with genuine pleasure; it is agreeably written, and the interest is sustained to the close.”  Academy, February 3, 1883
 
“The story is not overcharged with incident, but it has more than enough to relieve it from monotony, and the execution is much above the average.  There are indications of quiet power in this novel which give ample promise for the future work of its author, and it is in itself an achievement with which its readers are more than likely to be content.”  Athenaeum, February 3, 1883

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http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/OXVU1:LSCOP_OX:oxfaleph014545736

Novel 020: Sir Henry Stewart Cunningham, Wheat and Tares (1860)

 
William Powell Frith, Portrait of Two Girls 

William Powell Frith, Portrait of Two Girls 

 

A brother and sister, staying at a seaside town with their uncle the archdeacon, are involved in various romantic conflicts.


Sir Henry Stewart Cunningham (1832-1920), a prominent barrister and judge, found time to write six novels between 1860 and 1894.  Here, maybe he ran out of time, for, after three hundred pages of excellent social comedy, he concludes abruptly with a hundred more of badly plotted melodrama.  The beginning and middle, however, are good enough to make up for the end.

“A capital story.  Fresh, sparkling, and cheerful as a summer’s morning”; it provides “a very faithful daguerrotype of the life in an English sea-side town.”  Christian Examiner, November, 1860

"This is a natural work.  It will please all readers, whose tastes and human feelings have not been utterly obliterated by the blood-and-thunder 'sensation' romances of the time….  His book 'has the atmosphere of truth and the vigor of sincerity, and is executed with uncommon freedom, delicacy, and skill.'"  Knickerbocker, (quoting the New York Saturday Press), November, 1860

“The dialogue is unusually brilliant, natural, and easy.  The fun is quiet, subtle, and continuous; and the illustrations of hidden thoughts and the shading off of finer traits of character are at once ingenious and truthful.  But above all, it has throughout the unmistakable impress of a refined and delicate taste.  The people in it who are represented as talking in drawing-rooms talk as if they really were in drawing rooms, and not in the gilded saloons that haunt the fancy of Bohemia.  The ladies are ladies, and the gentlemen are about as wise and foolish, as well-behaved and as ill-behaved, as gentlemen usually are.”  Saturday Review, November 16, 1861

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Novel 019: Lady Georgiana Fullerton, Grantley Manor (1847)

 
William Dyce, Christabel

William Dyce, Christabel

 

A young woman is perplexed by a man who seems and does not seem to court her, and by a half-sister who may be very good or very bad.


Lady Georgiana Fullerton (1812-1885), daughter of an earl and convert to Catholicism, wrote roughly a dozen novels between 1844 and 1883.  Though the plot here is not always plausible, it enables her to place fully realized, sympathetic characters in interesting dilemmas.

“The skill with which the plot … is constructed, the exquisite truth of delineation which the characters exhibit, and the intensity of passion which warms and dignifies the subject, are alike admirable…. The depth of passion which surrounds the story of Ginevra is the result of unquestioned genius.”  Times, August 24, 1847

“If sentimentalism is sometimes carried to a rather extravagant height, and tenderness and pathos are occasionally over-wrought, still it is impossible to deny to the work, striking and passionate scenes, exquisite and truthful delineations of English society and character, vigour and grace of language, and high intellectual power.” Ainsworth's Magazine, July 1847

Fullerton “takes a high place among writers of modern fiction.  We have not for many a day read so charming a story….  Though there is nothing violent in the nature of the interest, and weakness, not wickedness, induces the suffering, the suffering is deep enough for profoundest sympathy, and the feelings are moved and agitated to the last.  And neighbouring the pathos...we have occasional archness, simplicity, and quiet humour, the effect of which is most graceful and lovely.” Examiner, July 3, 1847

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v.2  https://archive.org/details/grantleymanortal02full

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