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Blog category: British Literature

"The Rosary" by Florence L. Barclay

First published in 1909, The Rosary tells the story of Jane Champion and Garth Dalmain. The Honourable Jane is plain, exceedingly frank, and a fiercely loyal friend. In the words of Ms. Barclay, “She had once been described, by one who saw below the surface, as a perfectly beautiful woman in an absolutely plain shell.” Garth Dalmain, the artistic and sensitive hero, is as blessed in appearance as Jane is not. He is the fun, gifted bachelor that every woman is out to catch. After years of friendship, one night Garth hears Jane sing for the first time, and “the veil is lifted”. He declares his love to her, but Jane does not believe it will last. Then things get interesting. Continue reading .

"Oroonoko" by Aphra Behn

Oroonoko is the story of an enslaved African prince. Our narrator recounts the events from Oroonoko’s coming into princedom, his enslavement, and his struggle for love. It took a while to get started but soon I found that I was intrigued, much occurs in this short novel. There are commentaries about slavery and race, social class, gender, colonialism, and religion. The actions and imagery of our hero are reminiscent of Greek mythology. Continue reading .

Review: "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen


First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is the most famous of Jane Austen’s novels. Its manuscript was first written between 1796 and 1797. Initially called First Impressions, it was reworked several years later and published under the title we know today. I know this review will not encompass all that this book means to me and many others. For those who have read and loved this work, take this as my humble opinion and a challenge for you to write a better review than I have done. For those who haven’t read it, I hope this review will at least inspire you to do so. Continue reading .

"A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" by Isabella Bird

In 1873 Isabella Bird embarked on a trip through 800 miles of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, on horseback, alone. In a series of letters originally written to her sister back home in England, Bird gives us a detailed account of her travels. It is part Wild West, part nature journal, part historical document, and part character study of the quirky travelers and mountain folk she encounters. The reader can take away many things from this multi-faceted work, but the author’s point seems to lie in the ephemeral nature of life. Continue reading .

"Princess Priscilla's Fortnight" by Elizabeth von Arnim

First published in 1905, Elizabeth von Arnim no doubt wrote Princess Priscilla’s Fortnight as a fairy tale for her children’s amusement. It tells the story of Priscilla, a popular and celebrated German princess, who grows tired of her lavish and pampered life. Through the instruction of her mentor, Herr Fritzing, she learns there is a wide and varied world outside the castle walls, and she yearns to escape. The marriage proposal of an eligible prince makes Priscilla realize that if she wants to escape the life she secretly detests, now is the time. Continue reading .

"Mary Barton" by Elizabeth Gaskell

First published in 1848, Mary Barton was Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel. The story is set in the English city of Manchester during the 1830s and 1840s and deals heavily with the troubles of the working class poor at the time. The first half of the novel chronicles young and beautiful Mary Barton and her romantic vacillations between two lovers. The second half of the novel becomes a murder mystery and courtroom drama. Continue reading .

"These Old Shades" by Georgette Heyer

In this quasi-sequel to The Black Moth, Heyer changes the names of the characters, although their personalities remain recognizable and their histories and relationships remain much the same. The story follows as an amusingly twisted romance, forcing the reader inside the skin of a young ward–admiring, yea, worshiping a character who has no right to be admired, much less worshiped. Georgette Heyer skillfully keeps the reader guessing how this story could and should resolve itself, and the joy of reading the story is that anyone who has read Heyer previously knows not to take anything for granted. Continue reading .

"The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel" by Baroness Orczy

If you have read the first four books of the Scarlet Pimpernel series, you now know how addictive this series can be. The fifth book in the series, The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel will not disappoint you. League is a collection of stories and testimonials, related in content and character, but each able to stand alone with a discernible beginning and ending. This format is especially effective in demonstrating Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s enchanting storytelling skill, as it often allows the reader to take in an entire episode in one sitting. Continue reading .

"Sanditon and Other Stories" by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s juvenilia, unfinished work and extended pieces are just as enjoyable to read as the six great novels. My absolute favourite is Lady Susan but I’m fond of Sanditon, too, and its perceptive but quiet heroine, Charlotte Heywood. Sanditon is full of references to Austen’s own reading and contemporaries, Fanny Burney’s Camilla, Walter Scott’s Marmion and the poetry of William Cowper. It would be an interesting undertaking to read what Austen read. Sadly Sanditon was never finished but Austen’s wit and humour is evident throughout. Continue reading .

"Daniel Deronda" by George Eliot

While it doesn’t have the concise and perfect plot of Eliot’s Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda is once again proof that she could tell an engrossing story. That is if you make it through the pages upon pages of political speeches and ruminations about character motivations–Eliot is anything but concise in this one. The political element has a reason to be there, however, as at the heart of the novel is a commentary on the budding Zionist movement in British and European society at the time. Continue reading .

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