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

Novel 090: Mrs. S.C. Hall, Marian (1840)

 
George Frederick Watts, Charity

George Frederick Watts, Charity

 

A girl of gentle birth is raised as a foundling in London by a selfish lady and a loving nurse.


Anna Maria Fielding (1800-1881), born and raised in Dublin, moved to London as a teenager and in 1824 married journalist and editor S.C. Hall.  She wrote stories, plays, and half a dozen novels.  The Irish nurse here, though something of an ethnic caricature, is justly praised by the critics .

“Her sketches of character are lifelike; her events probable; and the dramatis personae, necessary to the progress and dénoûement of the plot, brought together with perfect ease.” Literary Gazette, January 18, 1840

“The Irish Nurse, who may be said to be the real heroine” has “a depth both of humour and of sentiment, a richness of colouring, a truth and purity of design, which will command for it a place among the very highest conceptions of this kind that our literature boasts.” New Monthly Magazine, February, 1840

“This is a simple story, yet it affords room for amusing, touching, and striking incidents; and among the persons of the drama there are several characters drawn with a firm and powerful hand. . . .   The gem of the novel is Katty Macane, the poor Irish nurse,—a character than which, whether considered in its conception or execution, we know nothing more admirable of its kind in Scott or Edgeworth.  We cannot praise it too highly, for we have hardly ever received greater delight from a creation of fancy.” Spectator, February 1, 1840

Download this week’s novel:

v.1 https://books.google.com/books?id=vNMsAAAAYAAJ&dq=editions%3A-vwPV-2TIx0C&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false

v.2 https://books.google.com/books?id=SnM1AQAAMAAJ&dq=editions%3A-vwPV-2TIx0C&pg=PA3#v=onepage&q&f=false

Novel 089: Albany de Grenier de Fonblanque, A Tangled Skein (1862)

 
James Sant, Enigma

James Sant, Enigma

 

An officer returning from India is involved in a murder mystery.


Albany de Grenier de Fonblanque (1830-1924) wrote a dozen novels between 1859 and 1892. This one has a clever, lively narrator (not averse to straining for a joke now and then), a suspenseful (if absurd) plot that lives up to the title, and several amusingly annoying characters.

“The ‘Tangled Skein’ is no unfitting title for a story which even the author himself is at a loss to unravel.  It is a sensation novel of the most approved type.  There is a murder, of which a baronet, a peer, and a tinker are suspected in turn.  There are secret marriages and illegitimate children, and hidden papers, and haunted rooms, and intelligent detectives, and all the regular apparatus of excitement and horror.  However, the novel is well written and sparkling, and those who like this class of literature might spend their time worse than in exercising their wits over Mr. Fonblanque’s puzzle.” Reader, January 10, 1863

“A modern tale of mystery, with detective police, telegraphic messages and express trains. Withal, it is well written, and there is nothing forced in the descriptions or in the manner in which the incidents are related. . . .  There are no highly-wrought passages, wherein any appeal is made to the reader’s feelings, but the interest is so well sustained, and the various incidents so ingeniously and mysteriously interwoven, that ‘A Tangled Skein’ bids fair to become a popular work.” Athenaeum, February 21, 1863

Download this week’s novel:

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=oxfaleph014269397&context=L&vid=SOLO&search_scope=LSCOP_ALL&tab=local&lang=en_US

Novel 088: Jessie Fothergill, Made or Marred (1881)

 
Edmund Blair Leighton, Our Next-Door Neighbor

Edmund Blair Leighton, Our Next-Door Neighbor

 

A promising young civil engineer falls in love with his suburban next-door neighbor.


Jessie Fothergill (1851-1891) wrote over a dozen novels, many set, like this one, in the the suburbs of an industrial city (she herself lived outside Manchester).  The villainess here is particularly entertaining.

“Those who are acquainted with Miss Fothergill’s previous novels will know that they possess considerable charm both of style and incident.  Made or Marred . . . exhibits the same characteristics.  It is a pleasant book with which to while away an afternoon. . . .  Some of the characters in this little volume are very attractive.” Academy, August 20, 1881

It shows “the author’s power of observation and description and her genuine, right-minded, and delicate sentiment”; “It is not a very common pleasure to read a love story in which the sentiment is  fresh and not insipid. . . . The studies of the town life and aspects as well as those of the landscape are made with Miss Fothergill’s well-known quickness of perception.  The essentials are seized upon with the skill of the accomplished sketcher.” Athenaeum, August 27, 1881

Download this week’s novel:

https://archive.org/details/madeormarred00fothgoog

Crossword 086: A Few Extracts

 
James Sant, George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon

James Sant, George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon

 

Here I sit, comfortably ensconced in my book-lined study, a snifter of cognac in my hand, a knowing glint in my eye, and . . . I can't think of a thing to say.


Download this week’s crossword:

086-A-Few-Extracts.puz

086-A-Few-Extracts.pdf

Solve this week's crossword online:

086 A Few Extracts


Pointing Hand.png

A puzzle of mine appears today in Universal Crosswords, and another will appear Thursday, July 18, in the Wall Street Journal


Novel 086: Florence Marryat, Love's Conflict (1865)

 
Charles West Cope, Hope Deferred, and Hopes and Fears that Kindle Hope

Charles West Cope, Hope Deferred, and Hopes and Fears that Kindle Hope

 

An heiress is discovered among fisherfolk; meanwhile, a virtuous young lady is entrapped by a bad man.


Florence Marryat (1833-1899), daughter of Frederick Marryat (the most successful 19th-century novelist of nautical adventures), wrote some eighty works of fiction, beginning with this one, which vividly represents various kinds of emotional torment.

“Without the aid of any very ingenious plot, Miss Marryat has succeeded in producing an exceedingly good novel.  We give no slight praise when we say that it possesses the rare combination of unflagging interest . . . great descriptive power, and an influence . . . altogether good. . . . The very simple secret of the interest that pervades ‘Love’s Conflict’ consists in a very difficult achievement—in the delineation of men and women who really are men and women, and do not pretend to be angels or devils.”  Athenaeum, February 11, 1865

Marryat’s “forte is a hard, almost coarse, realism both of style and topic. . . . She can paint and paint strangely well the ways and attitudes, and sometimes even the emotions, of thoroughly low natures.” Spectator, February 25, 1865

The novel “has considerable merit.  Miss Marryat paints the successive emotional phases through which her chief characters pass with subtlety and force.” Saturday Review, May 6, 1865

Download this week’s novel:

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=oxfaleph014599964&context=L&vid=SOLO&search_scope=LSCOP_ALL&tab=local&lang=en_US

Crossword 085: Quadruply Absorbent

 
Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, Strigils and Sponges

Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, Strigils and Sponges

 

Warning!  As the title makes clear, this is a dangerously absorbing puzzle.  If you're monitoring a nuclear power plant, or driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour, or picnicking with small children on the edge of a cliff—please, save it for later.  Your consent to solve this puzzle constitutes a legal waiver of all right to hold me responsible for any disasters that may ensue as a result of your quadruple absorption. 


Download this week’s puzzle:

085-Quadruply-Absorbent.puz

085-Quadruply-Absorbent.pdf

Solve this week's crossword online:

085 Quadruply Absorbent

Novel 085: Leslie Keith, Cynthia's Brother (1901)

 
Sir Francis Grant, Portrait of Miss Grant, the Artist’s Daughter

Sir Francis Grant, Portrait of Miss Grant, the Artist’s Daughter

 

A motherless girl adores her demanding older brother.


Grace L. Keith Johnston (1843-1929) wrote over forty works of fiction between 1878 and 1907 under the name Leslie Keith.  This novel, published by the Religious Tract Society after serialization in The Girls’ Own Paper, and therefore, one assumes, morally  and spiritually unobjectionable, is also quite good on the purely literary grounds of style, plot, and characterization.

“‘Leslie Keith’ give us some really good and subtle studies of character in this story.…  The last chapter, in particular, is an excellent bit of work.” Referring to didactic novels for the youth market, the reviewer continues, “There is a great amount of literary ability expended in the production of these books.  The good ones among them—and these are far more numerous than most people would think—are really more pleasant to read than any but the very best of the novels of the day.  They are more wholesome; they do not worry us with the insoluble problems of life; they are not bound by the convention that a good end is bad art.  But they must often fail to find their fitting audience.  We hope that Cynthia’s Brother—a title which somehow smacks of the nursery—may be more fortunate.” Spectator, November 2, 1901

Download this week’s novel:

https://archive.org/details/LeslieKeithCynthiasBrother1901Large

(I found no online version of this work, so I made one, using my own copy and my own inexpensive scanner.  It’s not as pretty as it might be, but it’s readable.)

Novel 084: Cynthia, Daughter of the Philistines (1896)

 
Sir Francis Grant, Portrait of a Young Lady

Sir Francis Grant, Portrait of a Young Lady

 

An aspiring novelist marries the daughter of a stock-jobber.


Leonard Merrick (1864-1939) wrote some twenty novels between 1891 and 1921.  This one has complex characters whose marital troubles arise in part from their differing backgrounds; it implies also a strong protest against the publishing industry’s poor treatment of brilliant novelists.

“There is a difficulty in writing about the ways of literature and literary men without a slight touch of cynicism.  But Mr. Merrick blends it so well with humour that no sting remains.” Morning Post, December 14, 1896

“In spite of flaws there is vigour and freshness in much of it.  The atmosphere is distinctly middle-class and is well sustained” and the characters “form an amusing gallery of portraits.” Athenaeum, January 23, 1897

“The happy phrases and brilliant ideas scattered about ought to make a name for the author... He has humour, a sense of style, and, while brimming over with things to say, he is neither diffuse nor ponderous.” Saturday Review, March 20, 1897

Download this week’s novel:

v.1 https://archive.org/details/cynthiadaughtero01merr

v.2 https://archive.org/details/cynthiadaughtero02merr