My latest phase of potato-chip reads is over, and I'm back to Victorian novels as inspired by the wonderful book Inside the Victorian Home, by Judith Flanders.
Miss Marjoribanks, Margaret Oliphant: Lucilla Marjoribanks is my hero! She's the Dolly Levi of Victorian novels--I loved her sensible, level-headed approach to life and to arranging everyone in it. So far I haven't had any luck finding further Chronicles of Carlingford, but shall keep looking assiduously.
Period Piece, Gwen Raverat: Not a novel but a cheery memoir of a young girl's life around the turn of the century. Light and amusing and utterly without angst.
Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell: More interesting than North and South, but still my least favorite of Mrs Gaskell's books. Ruth is a good character, in that her faults are clear but she works hard to overcome them, but she's just not my kind of gal. I prefer heroines with a little more backbone. The most interesting thing about this book is how appalling the treatment of seduced women and their illegitimate offspring was. I'm no fan of having children out of wedlock, but thank goodness our society no longer views such situations so harshly.
New Grub Street, George Gissing: More than slightly autobiographical, this novel looks with a icily realistic eye at the plight of those who venture into the writing life. Those who wish only to be "men of letters" or write purely from their hearts end up dying of starvation in a freezing garret, while those who are willing to make social connections and fulfill any writing assignment that comes their way are rewarded handsomely. Strangely, I found it inspiring... And while I didn't much care for any of the characters, it was quite a compelling story.
The Filigree Ball, Anna-Katherine Green: My sister found this book in an antique shop--it's a highly sensational detective novel that amused me greatly. Complete with mistaken identities, mysterious deaths, secret panels, family curses, tragic love affairs, and a mystery complicated beyond words--delicious!
Now I'm happily absorbed in Anne Bronte's Tenant of Wildfell Hall. What a writer she was! Somewhere in Heaven there's a library filled with her unwritten works...