‘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

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

Writing 150 Novels with Different Versions of the Same Plot

I ordered a copy of Balzac’s ‘The Black Sheep’ (in translation, naturally; my French isn’t up to that!) from an online bookstore, and it didn’t turn up, so I have been thrown back on what unread books I have to hand... I am dismayed about the price of second hand paperbacks online. Before the pandemic, … Continue reading Writing 150 Novels with Different Versions of the Same Plot

Review of ‘Eve and the Law’ by Alice and Colin Askew (1905)

  I have often written of how many writers combine both strong and sentimental writing in one novel, and that this is particularly true of many classic Victorian novelists such as Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot. While it is a notorious fault with Charles Dickens, even Thackeray often descended into the maudlin. While for these … Continue reading Review of ‘Eve and the Law’ by Alice and Colin Askew (1905)

Discovering More So Bad It’s Good Writing

I never get much in the way of writing done in the summer and early autumn; family matters always take precedence. I feel guilty about not getting down to that editing of my latest, but there seems to be no time… I have been doing some reading. I am Beta reading a fellow author’s fantasy … Continue reading Discovering More So Bad It’s Good Writing

Borrowing from the Great Bad Writer of Victorian Romances

I hope to bring out my next novel, ‘The Villainous Viscount Or The Curse of the Venns’ within weeks. There’s been a long delay – over two years – between this and my last ‘Ravensdale’. That was only partly because I’ve written half of the sequel to ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois as well. This is … Continue reading Borrowing from the Great Bad Writer of Victorian Romances

Strong and Sentimental Writing.

I'll take some time off from writing comedy to put up a slightly less facetious post than my recent spoofs. Surprisingly, a couple of years ago a teenager asked me to recommend some ‘strong writing’ (She even read them too, but that's irrelevant here). I assumed she meant writing that grips, and doesn’t pull punches, … Continue reading Strong and Sentimental Writing.