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Laura McDonald

Laura McDonald is a web developer by trade who enjoys long walks on the moors--er--hills of Central Texas. She is Girlebooks' founder and site administrator. Laura's literary preferences include Jane Austen, the Brontes, epistolary novels, and travelogues.

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Review: "North and South" by Elizabeth Gaskell

Review:

North and South tells a tale of contrast between the way of life in the industrial north of England and the wealthier south. First published in 1854, the story centers around young Margaret Hale from the South who moves with her parents to a fictional industrial town in the North. The move brings about many changes, as her experiences with the poor and the industrial ruling classes make her rethink her preconceived ideas on class, gender, and romance. Continue reading .

Review: "In the Mountains" by Elizabeth von Arnim

Review:

First published in 1920, the story is written in first person as a journal. Our narrator is a tired English woman who, after WWI, escapes ambiguous personal troubles in London and seeks refuge at her chalet among the Swiss Alps. As she starts to gain strength, two English women, also of ambiguous personal circumstances, show up literally on her doorstep. The hostess takes them in, and they embark on a strange and endearing path to helping each other. Continue reading .

Review: "Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther" by Elizabeth von Arnim

Review:

First published in 1907, this epistolary novel contains the letters from Fraulein (Rose-Marie) Schmidt to Mr (Roger) Anstruther. It is set in the college town of Jena, Germany where Roger, an Englishman, has just spent a year learning German. During his last hour before returning to England, the two confess their feelings and become secretly engaged. Rose-Marie’s letters, filled with effusions of life and nature, also chronicle the relationship of these two characters through the year following their engagement. Continue reading .

Review: "A Girl of the Limberlost" by Gene Stratton-Porter

Review:

First published in 1909, the story concerns Elnora Comstock who lives a reclusive life with her mother in the swamps of Indiana called the Limberlost. One day she discovers that a hobby she has cultivated all her life, collecting moth and other insect specimens from the swamps near her home, can actually finance the education she longs for. The first part is a family tale, where Elnora grapples with her mother’s moody ways while pursuing her educational goals. The second part is a romance. Continue reading .

Review: "Dear Enemy" by Jean Webster

Review:

First published in 1915, Dear Enemy is a sequel to Daddy Long Legs. Judy Abbott, whose letters to her anonymous benefactor made up the first novel, hardly makes an appearance in this one. The main character is Judy’s pal from college, Sallie McBride, who Judy recruits from her frivolous life to run the John Grier orphan asylum. Sallie’s letters are mostly to Judy, but letters to others including to the home’s moody Scottish doctor–her “enemy”–add some variation. Continue reading .

A Fund for Farida

Recently we’ve had some bad news from one of our authors, Farida Mestek. She is suffering from cancer and is courageously going through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I like to think of Girlebooks as a virtual tight-knit community, one of the best of its kind, and as such I’d like to request the help of whomever would like to offer it. We’ve set up a fund for Farida and are accepting donations to go towards paying her treatment costs. Continue reading .

Review: "The Incomplete Amorist" by E. Nesbit

Review:

First published in 1906, this novel centers upon four main characters and their romantic interactions. Betty Desmond is a pretty, naive girl ready to get into all sorts of trouble and cause her step-father and aunt endless worry. Then there’s Eustace Vernon, the amorist himself, who means no harm but goes to great lengths to win the ladies just to appease his vanity. Nesbit mixes things up with Lady St. Craye, one of the amorist’s many jilted lovers. And lastly Mr. Temple, who makes a clumsy first impression and is not very interesting or threatening…or is he? Continue reading .

Review: "Vera" by Elizabeth von Arnim

Review:

While the subject matter is dark and grows darker as we read, Vera is not, surprisingly, depressing. It is engrossing and will permeate your thoughts during and after reading, but it is more thought-provoking than mood changing. If you can appreciate Wuthering Heights and even find satisfaction and humor in its pages, you will most certainly love Vera. Continue reading .

Review: "The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen" by Elizabeth von Arnim

Review:

First published in 1904, The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen is a travel journal written in the same style as the author’s other autobiographical works Elizabeth and Her German Garden and The Solitary Summer. Elizabeth’s a goal is to ride her coach around Rügen, Germany’s largest island and a popular tourist destination. Von Arnim records her journey with enlightening and always witty observations. Continue reading .

Review: "The First Violin" by Jessie Fothergill

Review:

First published in 1877, The First Violin is told in first person from two points of view. It begins with May Wedderburn living a quiet existence in a small town in England. Her quiet is disrupted when she attracts the attentions of the local wealthy landowner, Sir Peter. May has no interest in Sir Peter’s offer of marriage and is even a bit afraid of him. Enter the town recluse Miss Hallam who offers to whisk May away to Germany where music and excitement await her immediately upon arrival. Continue reading .


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