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"The Harper Lee Collection" by Harper Lee
Now available together in a special boxed set, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee’s best-selling novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman. Learn more | See more from the author
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This is a Dybbuk Press book and I published it, so obviously this isn't an unbiased review. But what review ever is?
Anyhow, this is a Victorian novella by Israel Zangwill more known for his zionist activities than his literary output these days. His most famous books are Children of the Ghetto and The Big Bow Mystery (coming in August from Dybbuk Press). Even if he were still as popular as Dickens or Conan Doyle, this book would be considered one of his minor works. It does show all the markings of a Victorian novel. The characters are introduced thoroughly before they do anything. There are no stream of consciousness scenes. What the characters say, they tend to mean. Hemingway, Faulkner and Joyce would not come along for 20 years and Zangwill seemed to have no desire to imitate them even had he known of them.
Still, this romance is strangely affecting. A snob musician who is part of the British nobility toils away his days in poverty trying to create great art. He eschews money and wealth and hates America as the land of conspicuous excess. Somehow, he strikes up a friendship with his chamber maid (the Mary Ann of the title) and slowly loses some of his elitist attitudes.
There's a scene in Gosford Park where the rich guests sit around bored as a character plays the piano. Meanwhile, the servants are outside listening to the music with rapt attention. There's a similar scene in this book in which Lancelot realizes that all the "common" music that he's been despising has a value if only for Mary Ann. It's a sweet scene and it made up my mind to publish the book in the first place.
Anyhow, there should be more reviews coming shortly from reviewers that don't have a financial stake in the success of this book.