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Corpse Way (The Yorkshire Dales Mystery Series Book 1)
Corpse Way (The Yorkshire Dales Mystery Series Book 1)
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect read for my own Yorkshire Holiday, June 12, 2014
"Corpse Way" is a contemporary mystery set in Yorkshire and was the perfect reading company for my Yorkshire holiday which ended on Tuesday.

Millie, a young woman who is still trying to come to terms with her mother's death and her father's relationship with a new woman in his life, goes to visit her grandmother in the Yorkshire Dales. She can't imagine those three weeks to be exciting in any way, but soon finds out that her preconceptions about the place and the people were wrong: she stumbles into a situation that not only could very well determine the course of her life from now on (including the very tender beginnings of a romance), but also ends up being crucial to solving the mystery behind the sudden death of two people. Of course, her private investigation into the matter puts her and the new friends she has made in danger, but she emerges a stronger person, surer of herself and of what she wants.

I like the way Susan Parry writes. It is unpretentious, and she has not overdone it with the dialect (I know it is hard for some people to understand). You can tell she knows all the places that appear in the book very well, and people are described accurately enough to be able to picture them in your mind.

This was the first book in a series of (so far) six books, with the 7th in the making. I will certainly get the complete series.


Vanishing England: the book
Vanishing England: the book
by P. H. Ditchfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Travel Companion, April 14, 2014
Vanishing England" was written by Peter H. Ditchfield (1854 - 1930) and published in 1910. The author bemoans how the change of times, needs of an ever-growing population and ever more industrialized society are wreaking havoc with what he loves most about England.

The book is neatly divided into chapters about walled towns, castles, churches, mansions, cottages, prehistoric remains, inns and pubs, bridges and crosses. But it is not limited to buildings and structures. It also talks about vanishing customs, fairs, documents and scenery.

A lot of the time, what the author complains about as ugly (because too modern), is now, more than a 100 years later, considered quaint and oldfashioned. Sometimes, he seems to be a bit unrealistic about his dreams of a "better" past, wishing for the country people to remain forever in their traditional dwellings without any modern comfort, and preferably, in the mental state of their forefathers, too, when they had not yet developed a taste for pleasures such as train trips to the Seaside.

But mostly, what he says rings true, and with a bit of an effort, many old buildings could have been saved from destruction. I especially liked what he says about the old English village:

"I have said in another place that no country in the world can boast of possessing rural homes and villages which have half the charm and picturesqueness of our English cottages and hamlets. They have to be known in order that they may be loved. The hasty visitor may pass them by and miss half their attractiveness. They have to be wooed in varying moods in order that they may display their charms—when the blossoms are bright in the village orchards, when the sun shines on the streams and pools and gleams on the glories of old thatch, when autumn has tinged the trees with golden tints, or when the hoar frost makes their bare branches beautiful again with new and glistening foliage. Not even in their summer garb do they look more beautiful. There is a sense of stability and a wondrous variety caused by the different nature of the materials used, the peculiar stone indigenous in various districts and the individuality stamped upon them by traditional modes of building."

In other chapters, he is very realistic about how dangerous and cruel life really was for most people; not just when they were engaged in battles and wars, but daily life with its horrible treatment of even the pettiest of crimes (or mere suspicion).

I also learned some ethymology in this book. Did you know where the word "tawdry" comes from? I do now:

"Fairs have enriched our language with at least one word. There is a fair at Ely founded in connexion with the abbey built by St. Etheldreda, and at this fair a famous "fairing" was "St. Audrey's laces." St. Audrey, or Etheldreda, in the days of her youthful vanity was very fond of wearing necklaces and jewels. "St. Audrey's laces" became corrupted into "Tawdry laces"; hence the adjective has come to be applied to all cheap and showy pieces of female ornament."

When it was written, the National Trust had started its work only 15 years ago, and is often referred to in the book as having saved this or that building from being pulled down, with the amount of money spent mentioned as well, which makes for quite interesting reading.

This is one of the books that will remain on my kindle for future reference.


Vanishing England
Vanishing England
by P. H. Ditchfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.19
7 used & new from $7.18

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Travel Companion, April 14, 2014
This review is from: Vanishing England (Paperback)
Vanishing England" was written by Peter H. Ditchfield (1854 - 1930) and published in 1910. The author bemoans how the change of times, needs of an ever-growing population and ever more industrialized society are wreaking havoc with what he loves most about England.

The book is neatly divided into chapters about walled towns, castles, churches, mansions, cottages, prehistoric remains, inns and pubs, bridges and crosses. But it is not limited to buildings and structures. It also talks about vanishing customs, fairs, documents and scenery.

A lot of the time, what the author complains about as ugly (because too modern), is now, more than a 100 years later, considered quaint and oldfashioned. Sometimes, he seems to be a bit unrealistic about his dreams of a "better" past, wishing for the country people to remain forever in their traditional dwellings without any modern comfort, and preferably, in the mental state of their forefathers, too, when they had not yet developed a taste for pleasures such as train trips to the Seaside.

But mostly, what he says rings true, and with a bit of an effort, many old buildings could have been saved from destruction. I especially liked what he says about the old English village:

"I have said in another place that no country in the world can boast of possessing rural homes and villages which have half the charm and picturesqueness of our English cottages and hamlets. They have to be known in order that they may be loved. The hasty visitor may pass them by and miss half their attractiveness. They have to be wooed in varying moods in order that they may display their charms—when the blossoms are bright in the village orchards, when the sun shines on the streams and pools and gleams on the glories of old thatch, when autumn has tinged the trees with golden tints, or when the hoar frost makes their bare branches beautiful again with new and glistening foliage. Not even in their summer garb do they look more beautiful. There is a sense of stability and a wondrous variety caused by the different nature of the materials used, the peculiar stone indigenous in various districts and the individuality stamped upon them by traditional modes of building."

In other chapters, he is very realistic about how dangerous and cruel life really was for most people; not just when they were engaged in battles and wars, but daily life with its horrible treatment of even the pettiest of crimes (or mere suspicion).

I also learned some ethymology in this book. Did you know where the word "tawdry" comes from? I do now:

"Fairs have enriched our language with at least one word. There is a fair at Ely founded in connexion with the abbey built by St. Etheldreda, and at this fair a famous "fairing" was "St. Audrey's laces." St. Audrey, or Etheldreda, in the days of her youthful vanity was very fond of wearing necklaces and jewels. "St. Audrey's laces" became corrupted into "Tawdry laces"; hence the adjective has come to be applied to all cheap and showy pieces of female ornament."

When it was written, the National Trust had started its work only 15 years ago, and is often referred to in the book as having saved this or that building from being pulled down, with the amount of money spent mentioned as well, which makes for quite interesting reading.

This is one of the books that will remain on my kindle for future reference.


Vanishing England
Vanishing England
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Travel Companion, April 14, 2014
This review is from: Vanishing England (Kindle Edition)
Vanishing England" was written by Peter H. Ditchfield (1854 - 1930) and published in 1910. The author bemoans how the change of times, needs of an ever-growing population and ever more industrialized society are wreaking havoc with what he loves most about England.

The book is neatly divided into chapters about walled towns, castles, churches, mansions, cottages, prehistoric remains, inns and pubs, bridges and crosses. But it is not limited to buildings and structures. It also talks about vanishing customs, fairs, documents and scenery.

A lot of the time, what the author complains about as ugly (because too modern), is now, more than a 100 years later, considered quaint and oldfashioned. Sometimes, he seems to be a bit unrealistic about his dreams of a "better" past, wishing for the country people to remain forever in their traditional dwellings without any modern comfort, and preferably, in the mental state of their forefathers, too, when they had not yet developed a taste for pleasures such as train trips to the Seaside.

But mostly, what he says rings true, and with a bit of an effort, many old buildings could have been saved from destruction. I especially liked what he says about the old English village:

"I have said in another place that no country in the world can boast of possessing rural homes and villages which have half the charm and picturesqueness of our English cottages and hamlets. They have to be known in order that they may be loved. The hasty visitor may pass them by and miss half their attractiveness. They have to be wooed in varying moods in order that they may display their charms—when the blossoms are bright in the village orchards, when the sun shines on the streams and pools and gleams on the glories of old thatch, when autumn has tinged the trees with golden tints, or when the hoar frost makes their bare branches beautiful again with new and glistening foliage. Not even in their summer garb do they look more beautiful. There is a sense of stability and a wondrous variety caused by the different nature of the materials used, the peculiar stone indigenous in various districts and the individuality stamped upon them by traditional modes of building."

In other chapters, he is very realistic about how dangerous and cruel life really was for most people; not just when they were engaged in battles and wars, but daily life with its horrible treatment of even the pettiest of crimes (or mere suspicion).

I also learned some ethymology in this book. Did you know where the word "tawdry" comes from? I do now:

"Fairs have enriched our language with at least one word. There is a fair at Ely founded in connexion with the abbey built by St. Etheldreda, and at this fair a famous "fairing" was "St. Audrey's laces." St. Audrey, or Etheldreda, in the days of her youthful vanity was very fond of wearing necklaces and jewels. "St. Audrey's laces" became corrupted into "Tawdry laces"; hence the adjective has come to be applied to all cheap and showy pieces of female ornament."

When it was written, the National Trust had started its work only 15 years ago, and is often referred to in the book as having saved this or that building from being pulled down, with the amount of money spent mentioned as well, which makes for quite interesting reading.

This is one of the books that will remain on my kindle for future reference.


[ RECALLED TO LIFE ] By Allen, Grant ( Author) 2012 [ Paperback ]
[ RECALLED TO LIFE ] By Allen, Grant ( Author) 2012 [ Paperback ]
by Grant Allen
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense and Surprise, April 7, 2014
"Recalled to Life" was first published in 1891, eight years before Allen's death. It is, I think, a rather unusual book for its times. First of all, it is written from a woman's perspective, by a male author - and he has done a rather good job, in my opinion (with the occasional annoying "after all, I am only a woman" coming from the heroine - but maybe in those days women really felt like that and relied more on the men in their lives to solve problems, conduct businesses and so on). Secondly, the heroine is determined to go against what society in general and her relatives in particular expect and advise her to do; she follows her own lead. Thirdly, the language appears much more modern than what you'd think you would find in a book from 1891. Comparing it to This Freedom, which was written in 1922, I would not instantly be able to tell which is younger.

Now to the story: At the age of 18, Una Callingham suffers complete amnesia when she witnesses the murder of her father. Like a baby, she has to re-learn how to speak, think, read and write. Four years later, she is in possession of all her mental faculties again, but still can not remember anything from her life before the murder. People she knew back then are strangers to her, and no matter how often the police have spoken to her, trying to trigger her memory into finding anything that could be a clue to the murderer's identity, she is only left very distressed and frustrated every time.

Of course, this wouldn't be much of a story if things were not about to change. A new inspector turns up to talk to Una, handing her a bundle of paper clippings about the event, with photographs and all. Until now, her aunt had been so protective of her that she was never allowed to read what the papers wrote about her and the murder of her father. Now that she comes face to face with some of the facts that had been kept from her, she is determined to take things into her own hands and solve the mystery, knowing that she will never be able to lead a happy, self-determined life if she does not get rid of the mystery overshadowing her entire past.

By now, Una is 22 and can legally do as she pleases. There is enough money for her to travel and stay comfortably, and she sets out on her quest all optimistic and hopeful. The clues she keeps finding - both in her own memory and by talking to people who knew her and her father before - lead her as far away from England as Canada.
It is there that the circumstances of the murder and the true identity of the murderer are revealed. Some of it ranges from the surprising to the improbable, but it is all well written and kept me in suspense until (nearly) the end.

If you look for a good old-fashioned mystery (that is actually not so old-fashioned in some respects) and like free ebooks, I can recommend this one from the kindle shop.


Recalled to Life
Recalled to Life
Price: $0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense and Surprises, April 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Recalled to Life (Kindle Edition)
"Recalled to Life" was first published in 1891, eight years before Allen's death. It is, I think, a rather unusual book for its times. First of all, it is written from a woman's perspective, by a male author - and he has done a rather good job, in my opinion (with the occasional annoying "after all, I am only a woman" coming from the heroine - but maybe in those days women really felt like that and relied more on the men in their lives to solve problems, conduct businesses and so on). Secondly, the heroine is determined to go against what society in general and her relatives in particular expect and advise her to do; she follows her own lead. Thirdly, the language appears much more modern than what you'd think you would find in a book from 1891. Comparing it to This Freedom, which was written in 1922, I would not instantly be able to tell which is younger.

Now to the story: At the age of 18, Una Callingham suffers complete amnesia when she witnesses the murder of her father. Like a baby, she has to re-learn how to speak, think, read and write. Four years later, she is in possession of all her mental faculties again, but still can not remember anything from her life before the murder. People she knew back then are strangers to her, and no matter how often the police have spoken to her, trying to trigger her memory into finding anything that could be a clue to the murderer's identity, she is only left very distressed and frustrated every time.

Of course, this wouldn't be much of a story if things were not about to change. A new inspector turns up to talk to Una, handing her a bundle of paper clippings about the event, with photographs and all. Until now, her aunt had been so protective of her that she was never allowed to read what the papers wrote about her and the murder of her father. Now that she comes face to face with some of the facts that had been kept from her, she is determined to take things into her own hands and solve the mystery, knowing that she will never be able to lead a happy, self-determined life if she does not get rid of the mystery overshadowing her entire past.

By now, Una is 22 and can legally do as she pleases. There is enough money for her to travel and stay comfortably, and she sets out on her quest all optimistic and hopeful. The clues she keeps finding - both in her own memory and by talking to people who knew her and her father before - lead her as far away from England as Canada.
It is there that the circumstances of the murder and the true identity of the murderer are revealed. Some of it ranges from the surprising to the improbable, but it is all well written and kept me in suspense until (nearly) the end.

If you look for a good old-fashioned mystery (that is actually not so old-fashioned in some respects) and like free ebooks, I can recommend this one from the kindle shop.


This Freedom
This Freedom
by Hutchinson A. S. M. (Arthur 1880-1971
Edition: Paperback
Price: $23.58
5 used & new from $22.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Your Time, March 20, 2014
This review is from: This Freedom (Paperback)
What would you expect a book by the title "This Freedom" to be about?
Of course, "Twelve Years", the true story of an Afroamerican man kidnapped and sold into slavery and turned into a multiple-award winning movie, is quite present in many a mind. But "This Freedom" is not about slavery in its commonly understood sense. It is a book that, when it was first published in 1922, was heavily criticized by defenders of women's rights. It tells the story of a woman who wants, above anything, freedom - freedom to live her life the way she sees fit, which is not quite the way women were supposed to be living around the turn of the century and the time of WWI.

Rosalie grows up as the youngest in a country reverend's family, a family that is rich only in children. From her earliest conscious memories she knows one thing for sure: The world belongs to men, and women have but one task, to be there for their men. Men and boys can go where and when they want, with whoever they please, while women and girls are expected to be always at home, ready and willing to do the men's bidding.
Like her sisters, Rosalie is largely educated at home by her mother, but a combination of unexpected occurrances (some very sad and tragic, others positive for at least two members of the family) leads to her being installed in London at a girls' boarding school. Weekends are spent with a rich aunt, who, in a generously good-hearted, boasting way never fails to make Rosalie feel the poor relation she is.

Rosalie loves to learn, and the older she gets, the more obvious her exceptionally bright, logical mind becomes. She also loves about the school that it is an almost men-free world - here, it is the women who determine what is done when, and how. When she comes across a book about economics and banking, this book ("Lombard Street") becomes her "bible"; it shows her what she wants to do in life. Marriage and raising her own family never enters her mind.

Love does not ask whether it fits into someone's plans or not, and so it happens that Rosalie falls in love with the most unlikely candidate. (I must admit it was not much of a surprise to me, as it won't be to many a reader; too often have we already seen this trick of the authors' trade: boy meets girl, girl detests boy, girl falls madly in love with boy.)
By that time, Rosalie has already carved out a niche for herself in the business world. She is successful, she earns her own money, she loves her work, and is highly esteemed by her employer and his clients. Marriage will not change that, she is sure, and neither will having children. With her husband, she has what looks like the ideal marriage: both partners have equal rights, both thrive in their work, both love each other and their children very much, and the household is well organized, running smoothly from morning to night.

Things begin to change, gradually at first, but then in leaps and bounds. Decisions have to be taken. Decisions are taken, but they do not yield the expected results. Helplessly, Rosalie and her husband watch their family, which they had always perceived to be an extraordinarily happy one, disintegrate. Blow after blow they receive, until it seems they can't take any more. The book ends on a hopeful note, but many sad and dramatic events line the last of its four parts ("House of Men", "House of Women", "House of Children" and "House of Cards").

I was happy for Rosalie when she made her dream of a self-determined life come true. Her enthusiasm is described so well, it is infectuous. The sadness that follows is infectuous, too, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her and her family.
The criticism the book received originally is justified, if the story is taken at face value. But there is more to it than that, I think. To me, the author does not suggest Rosalie did wrong in putting her work first. He rather shows how difficult it is to balance family and work, and that is true for both women and men. It can work out, and probably does in many families (made easier nowadays in some ways, more difficult in others). But it can also go horribly wrong.
On the other hand, the family life at Rosalie's childhood home can hardly be described as happy, although her mother was always at home; Rosalie's home life with her husband and the children, while they were young, sounds happy. The things that her children do and that happen to them as they grow up could have happened just the same if Rosalie had always been a stay-at-home mum.

A book I can recommend; I'll probably go and look for more by the same author on the kindle shop.

Speaking of the author, Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson (often just given as A.S.M. Hutchinson) was yet another one of those immensely successful authors in their day whom I had never heard about before. Hutchinson lived from 1879 to 1971 and, while Wikipedia lists less than 20 novels and a few short stories as his works, some of his books were bestsellers. According to the New York Times, one of his novels ("If Winter Comes") was the best-selling book in the US in 1922. What I find quite touching is that he was so thrilled after the birth of his son that he wrote a book about it. Were he alive today, he probably would have blogged about it :-)


This Freedom
This Freedom
by S. M. (Arthur Stuart-Menteth) A.
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, March 20, 2014
This review is from: This Freedom (Paperback)
What would you expect a book by the title "This Freedom" to be about?
Of course, "Twelve Years", the true story of an Afroamerican man kidnapped and sold into slavery and turned into a multiple-award winning movie, is quite present in many a mind. But "This Freedom" is not about slavery in its commonly understood sense. It is a book that, when it was first published in 1922, was heavily criticized by defenders of women's rights. It tells the story of a woman who wants, above anything, freedom - freedom to live her life the way she sees fit, which is not quite the way women were supposed to be living around the turn of the century and the time of WWI.

Rosalie grows up as the youngest in a country reverend's family, a family that is rich only in children. From her earliest conscious memories she knows one thing for sure: The world belongs to men, and women have but one task, to be there for their men. Men and boys can go where and when they want, with whoever they please, while women and girls are expected to be always at home, ready and willing to do the men's bidding.
Like her sisters, Rosalie is largely educated at home by her mother, but a combination of unexpected occurrances (some very sad and tragic, others positive for at least two members of the family) leads to her being installed in London at a girls' boarding school. Weekends are spent with a rich aunt, who, in a generously good-hearted, boasting way never fails to make Rosalie feel the poor relation she is.

Rosalie loves to learn, and the older she gets, the more obvious her exceptionally bright, logical mind becomes. She also loves about the school that it is an almost men-free world - here, it is the women who determine what is done when, and how. When she comes across a book about economics and banking, this book ("Lombard Street") becomes her "bible"; it shows her what she wants to do in life. Marriage and raising her own family never enters her mind.

Love does not ask whether it fits into someone's plans or not, and so it happens that Rosalie falls in love with the most unlikely candidate. (I must admit it was not much of a surprise to me, as it won't be to many a reader; too often have we already seen this trick of the authors' trade: boy meets girl, girl detests boy, girl falls madly in love with boy.)
By that time, Rosalie has already carved out a niche for herself in the business world. She is successful, she earns her own money, she loves her work, and is highly esteemed by her employer and his clients. Marriage will not change that, she is sure, and neither will having children. With her husband, she has what looks like the ideal marriage: both partners have equal rights, both thrive in their work, both love each other and their children very much, and the household is well organized, running smoothly from morning to night.

Things begin to change, gradually at first, but then in leaps and bounds. Decisions have to be taken. Decisions are taken, but they do not yield the expected results. Helplessly, Rosalie and her husband watch their family, which they had always perceived to be an extraordinarily happy one, disintegrate. Blow after blow they receive, until it seems they can't take any more. The book ends on a hopeful note, but many sad and dramatic events line the last of its four parts ("House of Men", "House of Women", "House of Children" and "House of Cards").

I was happy for Rosalie when she made her dream of a self-determined life come true. Her enthusiasm is described so well, it is infectuous. The sadness that follows is infectuous, too, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her and her family.
The criticism the book received originally is justified, if the story is taken at face value. But there is more to it than that, I think. To me, the author does not suggest Rosalie did wrong in putting her work first. He rather shows how difficult it is to balance family and work, and that is true for both women and men. It can work out, and probably does in many families (made easier nowadays in some ways, more difficult in others). But it can also go horribly wrong.
On the other hand, the family life at Rosalie's childhood home can hardly be described as happy, although her mother was always at home; Rosalie's home life with her husband and the children, while they were young, sounds happy. The things that her children do and that happen to them as they grow up could have happened just the same if Rosalie had always been a stay-at-home mum.

A book I can recommend; I'll probably go and look for more by the same author on the kindle shop.

Speaking of the author, Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson (often just given as A.S.M. Hutchinson) was yet another one of those immensely successful authors in their day whom I had never heard about before. Hutchinson lived from 1879 to 1971 and, while Wikipedia lists less than 20 novels and a few short stories as his works, some of his books were bestsellers. According to the New York Times, one of his novels ("If Winter Comes") was the best-selling book in the US in 1922. What I find quite touching is that he was so thrilled after the birth of his son that he wrote a book about it. Were he alive today, he probably would have blogged about it :-)


This Freedom
This Freedom
Price: $0.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Read, March 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: This Freedom (Kindle Edition)
What would you expect a book by the title "This Freedom" to be about?
Of course, "Twelve Years", the true story of an Afroamerican man kidnapped and sold into slavery and turned into a multiple-award winning movie, is quite present in many a mind. But "This Freedom" is not about slavery in its commonly understood sense. It is a book that, when it was first published in 1922, was heavily criticized by defenders of women's rights. It tells the story of a woman who wants, above anything, freedom - freedom to live her life the way she sees fit, which is not quite the way women were supposed to be living around the turn of the century and the time of WWI.

Rosalie grows up as the youngest in a country reverend's family, a family that is rich only in children. From her earliest conscious memories she knows one thing for sure: The world belongs to men, and women have but one task, to be there for their men. Men and boys can go where and when they want, with whoever they please, while women and girls are expected to be always at home, ready and willing to do the men's bidding.
Like her sisters, Rosalie is largely educated at home by her mother, but a combination of unexpected occurrances (some very sad and tragic, others positive for at least two members of the family) leads to her being installed in London at a girls' boarding school. Weekends are spent with a rich aunt, who, in a generously good-hearted, boasting way never fails to make Rosalie feel the poor relation she is.

Rosalie loves to learn, and the older she gets, the more obvious her exceptionally bright, logical mind becomes. She also loves about the school that it is an almost men-free world - here, it is the women who determine what is done when, and how. When she comes across a book about economics and banking, this book ("Lombard Street") becomes her "bible"; it shows her what she wants to do in life. Marriage and raising her own family never enters her mind.

Love does not ask whether it fits into someone's plans or not, and so it happens that Rosalie falls in love with the most unlikely candidate. (I must admit it was not much of a surprise to me, as it won't be to many a reader; too often have we already seen this trick of the authors' trade: boy meets girl, girl detests boy, girl falls madly in love with boy.)
By that time, Rosalie has already carved out a niche for herself in the business world. She is successful, she earns her own money, she loves her work, and is highly esteemed by her employer and his clients. Marriage will not change that, she is sure, and neither will having children. With her husband, she has what looks like the ideal marriage: both partners have equal rights, both thrive in their work, both love each other and their children very much, and the household is well organized, running smoothly from morning to night.

Things begin to change, gradually at first, but then in leaps and bounds. Decisions have to be taken. Decisions are taken, but they do not yield the expected results. Helplessly, Rosalie and her husband watch their family, which they had always perceived to be an extraordinarily happy one, disintegrate. Blow after blow they receive, until it seems they can't take any more. The book ends on a hopeful note, but many sad and dramatic events line the last of its four parts ("House of Men", "House of Women", "House of Children" and "House of Cards").

I was happy for Rosalie when she made her dream of a self-determined life come true. Her enthusiasm is described so well, it is infectuous. The sadness that follows is infectuous, too, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her and her family.
The criticism the book received originally is justified, if the story is taken at face value. But there is more to it than that, I think. To me, the author does not suggest Rosalie did wrong in putting her work first. He rather shows how difficult it is to balance family and work, and that is true for both women and men. It can work out, and probably does in many families (made easier nowadays in some ways, more difficult in others). But it can also go horribly wrong.
On the other hand, the family life at Rosalie's childhood home can hardly be described as happy, although her mother was always at home; Rosalie's home life with her husband and the children, while they were young, sounds happy. The things that her children do and that happen to them as they grow up could have happened just the same if Rosalie had always been a stay-at-home mum.

A book I can recommend; I'll probably go and look for more by the same author on the kindle shop.

Speaking of the author, Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson (often just given as A.S.M. Hutchinson) was yet another one of those immensely successful authors in their day whom I had never heard about before. Hutchinson lived from 1879 to 1971 and, while Wikipedia lists less than 20 novels and a few short stories as his works, some of his books were bestsellers. According to the New York Times, one of his novels ("If Winter Comes") was the best-selling book in the US in 1922. What I find quite touching is that he was so thrilled after the birth of his son that he wrote a book about it. Were he alive today, he probably would have blogged about it :-)


Dora Deane
Dora Deane
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not always as expected, March 5, 2014
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This review is from: Dora Deane (Kindle Edition)
Dora Deane, orphaned at the age of twelve, is grudgingly taken in by her aunt; on the surface, as a family member, but reality soon shows that she makes a very convenient servant, especially for her cousin Eugenia, who has high ambitions.
These ambitions lead Eugenia to plot and deceive, all in view of the coveted prize: To one day be Lady of the Manor at Rose Hill, the Big House in the small town where the Deanes live in comparative poverty.
Dora does not suspect anything until years later, and without complaint does all the menial tasks set on her, although she'd much rather go to school, having developed a fondness for books and learning.

How the owners of Rose Hill get to meet Dora, resulting in an improbable friendship and, eventually, her finding love and happiness, is told over the course of several years. Everyone gets their reward in the end - there is some moralising in this book, but it is more out of a deep sense of justice than the overly pious attitude of Charlotte M. Yonge, making for a read not unpleasant, and not without its moments of tension (especially when Eugenia is about to find out that she has been found out).

Places and people are described clearly enough for a good mental picture without dwelling too much on every little detail of ladies' hairstyles and attire. Several times, I had been expecting something else to happen, but the overall outcome was not surprising.

Neither particularly recommending this book nor advising against it, I found this a relatively pleasant read, not overly challenging - and not too long :-)


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