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Blog category: British Literature

"Sir Percy Leads the Band" by Baroness Orczy

In the fourth novel in the Scarlet Pimpernel series (if one counts the prequels), Sir Percy spends much of his time in Choisy, France disguised as the leader of a band of musicians who entertain the French revolutionary masses at a seedy local alehouse. The fact that the French Commissary has placed a considerable price on the head of The Scarlet Pimpernel amuses, rather than deters, Sir Percy. He is in France to spare the aristocratic La Rodiere family, the Abby Edgeworth and Doctor Simon Pradel a trip to the Guillotine. Continue reading .

"The Black Moth" by Georgette Heyer

The Black Moth, first published in 1921, is Georgette Heyer’s first novel and is also the first novel in a four-part series including These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub, and An Infamous Army. The Black Moth is set around 1751 during the Georgian era and comes disguised as an amusing but uncomplicated romance. The story appears so straightforward that you may be inclined to read it with half a mind, but that would be a mistake. Continue reading .

"Cranford" by Elizabeth Gaskell

This collection of novellas centers around the fictional English town of Cranford and surrounding areas and forms the basis for the 2007 BBC mini-series of the same name. The Cranford Novellas are not page turners, but Gaskell’s format and style provides a readier canvas on which to portray the manias, heartbreak, tragedy and joy of rural England at the time. How lucky we are that Gaskell recorded these tales so that in them we gain insight into a way of life that otherwise would have been lost forever. Continue reading .

"Clouds of Witness" by Dorothy Sayers

First written in 1926, Clouds of Witness is the second in Sayers’ series featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, after Whose Body?. Like Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness also offers up some complications arising from mistaken identity, albeit in a different context. As Sir Peter Wimsey sorts through the evidence, the clues incriminate one person, then another, until all the characters know who is dead, why this person is dead, and who is at fault. Continue reading .

The Brontë Collection

This Sunday, January 18, viewers in the US can watch part one of a new Masterpiece Theater adaption of Wuthering Heights. I had the honor of previewing this production, and you can see my review on the PBS Remotely Connected website. To coincide with this premiere, we’re offering a new ebook collection to our ebook store. It is The Bront Continue reading .

"The Enchanted April" by Elizabeth von Arnim

First published in 1922, The Enchanted April was a best-seller in both England and the United States. The plot centers around four women, all strangers, who escape the dismal British weather for a month-long retreat at San Salvatore, an Italian villa. Once there, the company of the other women along with the “wisteria and sunshine” bring each character to realize then overcome a central flaw in her life. Lotty has her nervous tendencies; Rose always puts her religious obligations before everything else; Mrs Fisher can’t reconcile her contemporary life with the past she so idolizes; and the beautiful Lady Caroline can’t figure out why everyone around her is so dreadfully dull. Continue reading .

The Complete Works of Jane Austen

Our first offering in the ebook store is The Complete Works of Jane Austen. You can enjoy the convenience of all Jane Austen’s writing in one ebook file. It contains all of her major works: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion; Minor and unfinished works: Sanditon, The Watsons, and Lady Susan; and Juvenilia: Frederic & Elfrida, Love and Freindship, Lesley Castle, The History of England, A Collection of Letters, Scraps. Continue reading .

Review: "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" by Elizabeth von Arnim


One of the beauties of reading well-seasoned literature is that we modern women forget what life was like for women a hundred or more years ago. How easily we forget that having the liberty to choose one’s own activities is a relatively recent phenomenon for women. For Elizabeth, an upper class woman who was not enchanted by cooking and sewing, her passions for such “wasteful” activities as reading books and garden planning could only be fulfilled because of an indulgent husband, but even then, only then with ever-present feelings of guilt. Continue reading .

"The First Sir Percy" by Baroness Orczy

The First Sir Percy could be called The Laughing Cavalier, Part II because it takes up where the previous book leaves off in the highly addictive Scarlet Pimpernel series. The story teeters on the brink of disaster, as again, we wonder just who can we trust, and how in the devil is Diogenes going to get out of this trap, and again, should he? If you have read The Laughing Cavalier, don’t stop there. After all, you’ve already learned the Dutch, you know the characters, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy The First Sir Percy. Continue reading .

"The Laughing Cavalier" by Baroness Orczy

The first of two prequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Laughing Cavalier is set in Holland in 1623. It tells the story of Percy Blake, a foreign adventurer and ancestor of the Scarlet Pimpernel who goes by the name Diogenes. Unlike The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diogenes has not yet established himself as a man of sterling character or irreproachable moral integrity. Some of the fun of The Laughing Cavalier is that one is uncertain whether he will wind up in jail or on the scaffold, and whether he just might deserve such a fate. Continue reading .

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