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 Mario Puzo’s 1969 ‘The Godfather’

I first read this at seventeen, longer ago than I care to admit. I thought the writing style was poor in places even then. I re-read it because Albert Zukerman recommends studying the techniques the author uses as a writer of popular fiction. He is all admiration of Puzo's ability to create a larger than … Continue reading Re-reading Mario Puzo’s 1969 ‘The Godfather’

‘East Lynne’ (1861): the sensationalist best seller by Mrs Henry Wood (Ellen Wood): Review

Spoilers throughout! Many years ago, my mother came by leather bound copies of the mid-Victorian magazine ‘The Argosy’ as part of a job lot in an auction. These ended up on my parents’ endless bookshelves, and I read a couple of the stories. I vaguely remember that my mother said that most of the content … Continue reading ‘East Lynne’ (1861): the sensationalist best seller by Mrs Henry Wood (Ellen Wood): Review

Re-Reading ‘The Go Between’ by LP Hartley

I have just started re-reading ‘The Go Between’ by L P Hartley. I last read it longer ago than I care to admit – in my early twenties. It made a big impression on me then. I was struck by the vivid writing, brilliant use of a string of connected images and the striking ability … Continue reading Re-Reading ‘The Go Between’ by LP Hartley

Servant Heroes in Historical Romance: A Rarity Compared to Servant Heroines

It is interesting that one of the unwritten rules of historical romance is that the hero must never be a working class man, let alone a manservant. This is the more intriguing, because a fair amount of heroines are maidservants. Of course, in that, they follow the steps of the heroine of one of the … Continue reading Servant Heroes in Historical Romance: A Rarity Compared to Servant Heroines

Johnson’s Criticism of Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’ and the Problematic Nature of Dark Comedy

‘ 'To remark on the folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the confusion of the names, and manners of different times, and the impossibility of events in any system of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting imbicility...’ That is not an attack of a piece of work by some hack writer … Continue reading Johnson’s Criticism of Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’ and the Problematic Nature of Dark Comedy

Historical Fiction: Celebrated Writers whose Names are Syonymous with the Fictional Depiction of an Age: Part I: Mary Renault and the Bronze Age.

There are some writers of historical fiction on particular historical epochs who acquire such widespread  fame that they are often described as having ‘Made that era their own’. One of these is Mary Renault, famed for her strong writing and thorough historical research. Born in 1905 in a middle class home, strongly influenced by her … Continue reading Historical Fiction: Celebrated Writers whose Names are Syonymous with the Fictional Depiction of an Age: Part I: Mary Renault and the Bronze Age.