Review of ‘Comin’ Thro’ the Rye’ by Helen Mathers (1875): Victorian Melodrama with an Horrific Victorian Patriarch

I can't find the edition I read, which is certainly at least 120... I’ve written before about how my parents renovated rambling country houses, and the problem of those many empty bookshelves my mother filled up with bargain job lots from auctions, which often consisted of late Victorian and early Edwardian popular fiction. That was … Continue reading Review of ‘Comin’ Thro’ the Rye’ by Helen Mathers (1875): Victorian Melodrama with an Horrific Victorian Patriarch

Re-reading ‘A Phantom Lover’ (or ‘Oke of Okehurst’ by Vernon Lee

    This is actually the third time I've read this, which has to be a compliment to the author. A fellow writer mentioned it not long ago, and the whole concept of a woman being infatuated with a ghost, and that made me eager to re-read it. I first read it in my early … Continue reading Re-reading ‘A Phantom Lover’ (or ‘Oke of Okehurst’ by Vernon Lee

Review of Rhoda Broughton’s ‘The Game and the Candle’: A Romantic Novel With An Unhappy For Now Ending

These days, it is a firm convention of romantic novels that there must be a happy ending – otherwise, it confounds reader expectations. While some writers and readers hold out that a ‘happy for now’ is sufficient – ie, it is left up to the reader to decide whether the new found happiness between hero … Continue reading Review of Rhoda Broughton’s ‘The Game and the Candle’: A Romantic Novel With An Unhappy For Now Ending

Anne Brontë’s ‘Agnes Grey’: A Melancholy Story with a Happy Ending

I first read Anne Brontë’s ‘Agnes Grey’ a long time ago – in my early twenties – about the time that I first read ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. I believe a fair number of people consider it her masterpiece in its brevity and tight plotting. I can see it has those features, but I … Continue reading Anne Brontë’s ‘Agnes Grey’: A Melancholy Story with a Happy Ending

More on Antagonists: Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Sylvia’s Lovers’ and the Eponymous Lovers as Antagonists.

Following on from my recent post about antagonists, it is interesting how that role is often played by an inhuman character, and can even be an impersonal force. Sometimes, the identity of the antagonist can even appear to shift from one character to another: one formerly not perceived as an antagonist can become one as … Continue reading More on Antagonists: Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Sylvia’s Lovers’ and the Eponymous Lovers as Antagonists.

‘The Old Nurse’s Story’ by Elizabeth Gaskell: An Excellent Classic Ghost Story for Christmas

A ghost story is always particularly enjoyable at Christmas.Last Christmas, I recommended ‘The Crown Derby Plate’ by Marjorie Bowen, a comically grotesque ghost story.A few weeks ago, I recommended a modern one – Mari Biella’s modern ghost story, the stirring  ‘Dark Moon Fell’ as excellent reading in the run up for Christmas.Here is one of … Continue reading ‘The Old Nurse’s Story’ by Elizabeth Gaskell: An Excellent Classic Ghost Story for Christmas

Plasticity,Recycled Characters and Beloved Brothers: Part One: Elizabeth Gaskell

In an earlier post, I discussed how Elizabeth Gaskell used a particular character type - suely largely based on her lost and beloved brother - the charming, brave, dashing and handsome sailor, three times, in slightly different variations. She used this character type possibly four times, if I count the returned sailor 'Poor Peter' in  … Continue reading Plasticity,Recycled Characters and Beloved Brothers: Part One: Elizabeth Gaskell