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"The Rosary" by Florence L. Barclay

The Rosary may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog.

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.

In digging through these "lost" novels as we do on this site, it's so much fun to find one like this that is truly engrossing from the first pages and as deeply moving as any Brontë or Austen work. The first half of the book is so perfectly written and edited that I could see the scenes enacted in my head as if watching a movie. Barclay lags somewhat in the second half, but the urge to know what happens speeds you along.

I would absolutely love to see this as an adaptation. Thus, in the vein of one of my favorite blogs, The Lit Connection, I share with you my casting suggestions:

anna-maxwell-martin-bleak-houseJane Champion
Actress: Anna Maxwell Martin
Character description: While far from plain, this actress can do plain admirably well. She did downright ugly in Bleak House. Jane is also tall and of good build--not skinny, not fat. Anna Maxwell Martin has done several period pieces, so we know she'll be comfortable with the material.

james_mcavoyGarth Dalmain
Actor: James McAvoy
Character description: Garth must be handsome, sensitive, and yet not whiny. He must be persistent, but not annoying. This character has many feminine traits and emotions, but he can't come across as effeminate. It is a narrow line this actor must walk, but I feel that--as I had McAvoy in my head the entire time I read the novel--he would fit this character perfectly.

kristen_scott_thomasThe Duchess
Actress: Kristin Scott Thomas
Character description: There are several good minor characters in this novel. The Scottish doctor, Jane's best friend (another doctor), and the Duchess are a few. All of these characters could have whole novels to themselves, and I was especially curious about the Duchess. She opens and closes the novel, but we hardly see any of her during the bulk of the action. The Duchess must be older, independent, and very stylish. Kristin Scott Thomas has aged gracefully in front of the camera, but we also remember her younger days in the obsessive love triangle that was The English Patient. She'd make a great Duchess.


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