today I’m reviewing three old, vintage books. As long as I love keeping up with the latest book releases, I think it’s nice, every now and then, to pick up a book that was written about a century ago. That way, you can find lots of nice little gems (and a few duds) that have largely been forgotten.
The Way Of An Eagle by Ethel M. Dell
I found this romance to be both enjoyable and frustrating at the same time. Lieutenant Nick Ratcliffe rescues Miss Muriel Roscoe, the woman he’s madly in love with, from an Indian fort that’s under siege and not able to hold out much longer. That’s a difficult mission and one that requires Nick to be ruthless at times. This, coupled with the fact that he looks like a monkey (that’s how Dell often describes him) scares Muriel, who’s a nervous wreck for most of the book, and makes her repel his advances time and time again. And that’s what really irritates me. Ok, Nick’s behaviour is cruel at times, but in life and death situations you just have to do what needs to be done to stay alive, and his bad deeds are done to protect and save her life, so why be so scared? You’ve also probably already figured out that, because the heroine is scared of the hero, this is not really your usual romance. There’s nothing really sexy in that, is it? Instead, I absolutely loved Nick. He may not be goodlooking and may have many flaws, but he’s just a good soul who’s willing to do anything for the woman he loves. The book is maybe a bit too long, and the language a tad archaic obviously, but the story flows easily and it’s a pleasure to read it. Overall, this is a charming, in a worrying sort of way, book that I highly recommend to those who are looking for a different type of romance novel.
Available at: Project Gutenberg
The Pastor’s Wife by Elizabeth Von Arnim
A tragic story told in a charming, witty way that prevents it from being (too) depressing. The daughter of a Bishop, Ingeborg has always lived a secluded life. When she goes alone to London to see the dentist, she experiences her first morsel of freedom, which induces her to do something “crazy”: she joins, on a whim, a tour group heading to Lucerne. Here she meets Robert Dremmel, a Lutheran pastor from East Prussia, who thinks she will make a great wife for a man in his position and, unwillingly, being too afraid to turn down his proposal, she marries him and follows him to Kokensee. There, her life is just as stifled as it was back home, and moreover, she gives birth to a child every year, until she’s forced to banish her husband from her bed. Another pregnancy would, in fact, probably kill her. Robert, although treating her like a child, had been kinda affectionate up until that point, but now he just ignores her. And then a painter comes along who wants to make Ingeborn his mistress. She has complete trust in him and doesn’t suspect his designs at all… Ingeborn is completely unconscious of herself and of what’s going on around her. She’s a very passive character that doesn’t realise she can change her own destiny if she wants to. That can be really frustrating for modern readers to read about, but in the end, Ingeborn is not a bad character. She’s simply the product of her time. Overall, it’s a lovely book full of charming descriptions and witticism, but quite unsuitable for modern sensibilities.
Available at: Project Gutenberg
To Have And To Hold by Mary Johnston
An historical romance set in Jamestown, Virginia in 1621. Mistress Jocelyn Leigh has embarked on a ship that took women in Virginia to marry the men who had settled there, to escape marriage with Lord Carnal, the King’s favourite. Here, she meets Captain Ralph Percy and marries him on condition that they’re gonna be man and wife in name only. But just when Jocelyn finally believes to be safe, Lord Carnal arrives in the colony to claim her back, with the permission of the King and thus, the law on his side. Thus begins a long series of exciting and dangerous adventures. Pirates, Indians, treachery, love and hatred.. this book is full of twists and turns. You won’t be able to put it down! It’s a bit too long maybe, and the language quite archaic, but not difficult to follow. It is a highly enjoyable read and I recommend it to anyone who loves a tame (no steamy sex scenes here) but adventurous romance.
Available at: manybooks.net
Have you read these books? If so, what do you think of them?