If Northanger Abbey was a little confusing for me, Nachtstürm Castle was not. Author Emily C. A. Snyder describes this work as a Gothic novel in the style of Jane Austen, and it exhibits a visible Austen imprint in the style of prose and in the charming imitation of that author’s habit of addressing the reader. Having read only one novel by Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, and having read it as a preparation for reviewing Nachtstürm Castle, I can see the resemblance in style and, of course, subject matter. However, the story takes us beyond Austen, where I perceive (rightly or wrongly) snatches of Dorothy Sayers, Mary Shelley, and even Edgar Allen Poe. Continue reading .
Judith Collington lived in Hollywood and made excellent money as a personal shopper to the stars. For the casual observer, her life might be the stuff that dreams are made of, but Judith was itching to get herself and her pre-teen daughter away from all the glitz and phoniness of the entertainment trade. She longed for a job that would allow her time to connect personally with daughter, Shannon, before the latter’s souring attitude went permanently south. Continue reading .
Although I’m not nostalgic and seldom reread children’s books, I had astonishingly good taste as a child: I read Little Women, Linnets and Valerians, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Friday’s Tunnel, An Episode of Sparrows, and E. Nesbit’s The Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit’s charming fantasy classics were my favorites, and I demanded them for several birthdays and Christmases. I didn’t call these fantasies: I referred to them as “magic adventure books.” The adventure happens to witty, independent, intelligent children against the background of ordinary life at the turn of the twentieth century. Continue reading .
First published in 1796, Burney’s third novel revolves around the economic and matrimonial concerns of Camilla Tyrold and her close family. The story takes us through many hardships in the Tyrold family, most caused by misunderstandings, on the path to true love and solvency. After a slow start, once all the characters are introduced and start to interact, Burney weaves a captivating story. If you have enjoyed Evelina and Cecilia and are hungering for more Burney, Camilla will satisfy you. You also will be satisfied if you are a Jane Austen fan and are curious about her influences. Continue reading .
First published in 1859, Adam Bede is set in the rural farming community of Hayslope in 1799. The plot centers around four characters and the entangling relationships amongst them. The titular character is a well-respected young carpenter who is in love with the pretty Hetty Sorrel. Hetty in turn is in love with the rich Arthur Donithorne who returns her feelings but has no honorable intentions. Dinah Morris, Hetty’s cousin and a Methodist preacher, is introduced early on and becomes a pivotal character near the end of the novel. Continue reading .
A Northanger Abbey Cliff’s Notes version might have helped me understand the intricacies of the ending, which came tumbling at me so fast I scarcely knew what hit me. No ending has taken me as much by surprise since I read Georgette Heyer’s The Black Moth. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy my first venture into Jane Austen. However, it got me wondering how a laundry bill could become such a pivotal symbol in the progress of the story and wishing I had paid more attention at its discovery. My real issue with the ending was that I understood on some level what happened, but the dénouement was not spelled out for me as I expected it to be. This is not so much a fault of Jane Austen as it is of my inexperience in reading Jane Austen. Continue reading .
First published in 1823, these memoirs were written by the first lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette of France. Madame Campan became close to the Queen during her 18 years in service. Her memoirs divulge details of the daily life at the royal court as well as recount the events of the Revolution from the royal family’s perspective. he Memoirs are written so that you can feel her devotion and see her true attachment to the royal couple. Her style is empathetic, descriptive and very lively; she brings the court to life. Continue reading .
First published in 1907, The Shuttle begins with the marriage of Rosy, a heiress from New York, to Sir Nigel who despises Americans but has entrapped her for her money. Back in England, he abuses her psychologically and physically until she turns over most of her money to him. He also cuts off Rosy’s communications with her family. Twelve years later, Rosy’s sister Betty suspects Rosy may be Sir Nigel’s victim and sets out to rescue her. Continue reading .
Hot flashes, a 25-year marriage, unfulfilled career ambitions, a restless retirement, a large stash of amber liquid hidden in the basement, and a husband whose life work involves garbage collection all set the scene for an unlikely romance. However, Eva Pasco has managed to weave all these elements into an amusing story line that wanders here and there at a steady clip—a story line as enticing and unpredictable as the heroine, Carla Matteo. Continue reading .
Deep down inside, author Georgiana felt like a naïve girl who knew nothing of the world she took part in. It is that inner, scared child that becomes Julia, the heroine of The Sylph. While it is not an autobiography, The Sylph depicts many revealing, real-life situations from Georgiana’s social circle. Published anonymously when she was twenty-one, the book shocked many due to its revelations. Today the book is just as eye-opening as it was when it was published. Continue reading .