Thirty years ago it was said of me that I was as gallant a beau as ever bowed over a fair lady’s hand… I am more years past fifty than I like to acknowledge, and now a girl of twenty is coming to upset the habits and routine of a lifetime.
One of my treasures from this spring’s used book sales is a sentimental romance written in 1905, full of detailed background borders on every page.
As is typical of novels written at the turn of the century, the language is exquisite, the tone is thoughtful, and the plot gentle, original and full of genuine emotion. I read it in two sittings.
The dedication sets the author’s tone…
The story takes place in a small village in Kentucky. It begins with the narrator anticipating a visit from the daughter of his one true love, Drucilla.
“I knew her mother in the long ago. She herself was but twenty when last I saw her, and yet today hers is the only face that remains clear in my memory… Shortly after I saw Drucilla for the last time, she married William Dudley, the companion of my youth and friend of my manhood. …Then when little Marcia Dudley–My Lady o’ Roses–was born, the mother died…”
“It is in the silence that follows the storm,” says the proverb, “and not the silence before it, that we should search for the budding flower.”
Many years later when she was a young lady, Marcia’s father, dying, sent a letter begging him to take his only child and guard her as his own. Marcia travels across the ocean to America. At first sight of her, the narrator (who is never named), is shocked to see what appears to be his long lost love, so similar is Marcia’s face to her mother’s. He introduces Marcia to his neighbor Louis and others in the nearby village, and she settles in.
In time, Louis tells them both how he had previously traveled to France, where he had been bewitched by a woman playing a sweet tune on a violin. They’d fallen in love, but they couldn’t be together. The woman vowed that she could never play her violin again until she reunited with her love, and he’d returned to Kentucky broken-hearted.
Marcia eventually reveals that she was the one Louis had loved in Paris, but she had not known where he’d gone when he left her. Now they are reunited, and the narrator muses,
“Then, after a while, there came to me from without the night, like unto the perfume of roses, the soft, warm tones of a lover’s violin bearing the message with which, years and years ago in a garden in Picardy, Margot o’ the Crimson Lips gave the heart of her to the Dreammaker.”
Here was a lovely discovery about halfway through…
It was not easy to find information about the author. Frank Waller Allen was an American author born in 1878 in Kentucky, United States. He was educated at Transylvania University, Kentucky, 1902, and worked as a journalist, minister, professor and lecturer.
Among the author’s other books are My Ships Aground (1900); The Golden Road (1910); The Lovers of Skye (1913); The Brothers of Bagdad (1913); Painted Windows (1918); The Great Quest (1918); My One Hundred Best Novels (1919); Wings of Beauty (1929); and Creative Living (1930).
Two huge book sales offer Calgarians the opportunity to support worthwhile causes. I have attended these for at least 10 years, and always find great deals and unique books.
#1 – Wednesday to Sunday May 1st to 5th, 2019 RESET Society book sale at the Crossroads Market, 1235 26 Ave SE
RESET (formerly Servants Anonymous Society) is having its Annual Book Drive and Sale on May 1st to 5th, 2019, at the Outpost Tent at Crossroads Market.
Looking for vintage books? This one is my pick for finding vintage treasures! They are in a special enclosed area in the back right corner, very nicely organized.
Wednesday & Thursday, May 1 & 2, from 3pm-8pm
Friday to Sunday, May 3 – 5, from 10am – 5pm
Heading to the Book Sale with Calgary Transit? There is a stop located @ 26 Ave 11 St SE for route 24 and 302. For more information or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 403-237-8477. The proceeds from this book sale help RESET provide great supports for vulnerable women and their children.
#2 – Friday to Sunday May 10th to 12th, 2019 CBC Calgary READS book sale, at the Calgary Curling Club, 720 3 St NW
The impact of this sale on Calgary’s children is enormous, as it provides help for increasing literacy through proceeds raised by selling huge quantities of joy-filled books for adults and children.
Calgary Reads is committed to working with parents, educators, corporate partners and the community at large to foster a joyful relationship with reading in all children in Calgary and beyond.
Such worthy causes! I hope you’ll join the fun and find some treasures!
In 1894, a publisher held a writing competition to obtain the best manuscript that would inspire a child’s Christian faith. Florence Kingsley submitted her manuscript for Titus: A Comrade of the Cross and won the $1,000 award. In six weeks, 200,000 copies had been printed to meet demand.
The story is about a young boy named Titus, the son of a downtrodden mother and a poor, violent fisherman. His brother Stephen is remarkably kind, considering the fact that he was crippled from a beating by their father. Titus is cynical of what he hears about Jesus, and warns Stephen against any hope of healing.
This historical novel takes place at the time of the first Easter.
“Titus was listening with all his ears, but he said nothing, for he hoped that the man would speak further…. He could have slipped away in the dark easily enough, and was half-minded to do so.
Then he reflected that he might learn something more of his mysterious birth and parentage, if he stayed; besides, he had a strong curiosity to see the much-talked-of Barabbas; and underneath all, was an unconfessed desire to share in the exciting events which were soon to follow.”
Over thirty years ago, I was given a copy of this hardcover novel,. The cover was ragged, and as I skimmed the text I could tell that the language was ancient and confusing. It sat on my shelf for a long time because I had no interest in reading it, but I kept it out of affection for the person who gave it to me.
Finally, years later, I picked it up and started reading it, and couldn’t put it down. The language wasn’t a problem once I got used to it, and even though halfway through the book I found that a whole chunk of pages was missing, the suspenseful plot and true-to-life characters still mesmerized me.
I can honestly say that my faith grew tremendously from reading–and having “lived”–this story.
I was still reading it when my first son was born, and we gave him a middle name that was not the name of a relative, but of a character that touched me deeply in Titus: A Comrade of the Cross.
Because Titus: Comrade of the Cross is so well-known and well-loved, this book is readily available to read online or by download, at such sites at archive.org and google books. Free audio of the book is offered at LibriVox. Hardcover copies are also easily available at various online bookstores, including Chapters-Indigo. Lamplighter.net features a great video blurb about it, and Bookworm Blessings has an excellent review and summary.
Although it was originally written for children and youth, I recommend this book for any age. Its longevity attests to its quality! The author wrote a total of 3 books in this “Comrades of the Cross” series, including Stephen: A Soldier of the Cross and The Cross Triumphant, as well as many other books.
Are you familiar with Florence M. Kingsley? Have you read any of her other books? Let me know if you have any favorites you’d like to recommend. You can leave me a comment below. I always love hearing from you!
And I wish you a Happy Easter!
Most Valentine’s Days, I’ve reviewed a favorite romance. As far as I am concerned, Jane Austen, Rosamunde Pilcher and Georgette Heyer are by far the most reliable authors for a quality, wholesome romance novel.
But I have discovered a new author of great talent, Christina Dudley!
I still haven’t figured out how I even ran across this book. It may have been connected with a yearly binge online search of my local library for clean romance novels. Or it could have been through Amazon’s recommendations based on some wholesome romance novels I bought from the Kindle store.
Anyway, I read great reviews about The Naturalist, which is a Regency novel, and Book 1 of the The Hapgoods of Bramleigh series. So, because the main characters were scientists, I decided to buy it.
Now, I didn’t really expect much, because statistically I only actually like about 1 out of 30 romance novels that I pick up these days. But what a pleasant surprise!
The main characters meet over their mutual fascination with flora and fauna, and their intense devotion to observing and recording data about them.
At first they assume that their strong attraction is professional. But when social conventions force them apart, they realize it’s a strange but wonderful kind of love, and their own unconventional thinking and determination drive them to do what is unthinkable in Regency society.
Their relationship is pleasant, and turns hilarious as some secrets are revealed. Both have a strong, moral character which heightens their inner turmoil throughout the story. The plot twists are realistic and unexpected. And the tension created by all the people trying to keep them apart and by their perplexing feelings for each other kept me glued to my Kindle screen!
What a rare find. I agree with one reader who said that it is a quiet, soothing, yet interesting, read, and I will add “intelligent” to the list as well.
I highly recommend The Naturalist to anyone who is looking for a quality, intelligent romance or is a fan of Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer!
Happy Valentine’s Day, and happy reading!
I hope you’ll let me know what your favorites are!
* * * * * *
Here are my previous Valentine’s Day reviews:
Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson
God’s Good Man: A Simple Love Story by Marie Corelli
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
Thorn in my Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
Arabella by Georgette Heyer
The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer
Hearts background courtesy of Monika Stawowy at https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=241019&picture=valentines-day-background, License: CC0 Public Domain
Imagine a happily married couple–no, a blissfully married couple–sharing and supporting each other through many years’ of challenges and joys.
Now freeze that frame.
A shocking revelation blindsides the man, a fallout from a difficult decision he made during his youth while under the severe pressures of combat duty. He knows how much his wife loves him, but he fears this could destroy his marriage. It almost certainly would ruin his public standing, just as he closes in on the triumph of his political career.
Return to the quiet, thoughtful, intelligent couple. Christopher Winters and his scientist wife, Laura, are best friends, open and honest, calmly discussing problems, genuinely caring for each other.
Although on the other side of the world two people’s lives are in the balance, he would be insane to reveal his secret. Will he?
I highly recommend The New Year, and what a great time to read it, in January!
Spending time with these characters made me want to be more like them. I am quite sure that reading this book changed me for the better. It showed me how a crisis can be handled with patience, good judgment, compassion, integrity and faithfulness. It is rare these days to find a fiction book with meaning, but this one is brimming over with it.
The New Year was published in 1968, over thirty years after Pearl S. Buck wrote her Pulitzer-prize winning novel, The Good Earth, about a family living in a Chinese village in the early 20th century. The author’s parents were missionaries in China and she grew up there.
The Good Earth appears on so many must-read lists that, about ten years ago, I put it on my own To Read list. The premise didn’t sound very interesting to me, but I forced myself to read the first few pages. After that, I couldn’t put it down, and it has stayed with me all these years.
In my imagination I can still see the main character, O-lan, struggling stoically through her life. This best-selling novel–only the second novel she’d written!–led to the author’s winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. According to Amazon.ca, she is the most widely translated American author to this day.
And I recently discovered something lovely about the effect that Pearl S. Buck’s writing had on one reader.
Author Anchee Min grew up in Shanghai and wrote in her 1994 memoir, Red Azalea, about her youth and the chaos of China’s Cultural Revolution. In an NPR interview, she tells how in her teens students were asked to denounce Pearl Buck as an American cultural imperialist.
Min told her teacher she didn’t know about Pearl Buck, and asked if she could read the book, The Good Earth. Her teacher said that the book was so toxic that it was considered dangerous to even translate it. So she dutifully completed her assignment by copying lines from the newspaper: ‘Pearl Buck insulted Chinese peasants. She hates us, and therefore she is our enemy.’
Min didn’t think about the author again until 25 years later, when she was on a book tour. “I was in Chicago in a bookstore doing a reading, and a reader came to me. She says, ‘Do you know Pearl S. Buck?’ And before I could answer, she gave me a paperback. She says, ‘This is a gift. I just want you to know that Pearl Buck taught me to love Chinese people.’ ”
Min said that when she read the novel, she broke down and sobbed because she had never seen anyone, including her own Chinese authors, who wrote of the Chinese peasants the way Pearl Buck did, with such love, affection and humanity. And it was at that very moment her 2010 book Pearl of China was conceived. Pearl of China, about the life of Pearl S. Buck, offers a perspective of how Chinese people saw this brave American woman who was beloved by the people close to her but denounced by authorities.
You can read an excerpt from Anchee Min’s book at the NPR link, here.
Since reading Buck’s The New Year, I have set a goal to read as many of her books as possible, starting with one of hers that I found recently at a used book store, a hard cover published in 1945, Portrait of a Marriage. She wrote over 100 works of literature, including 46 novels and many children’s books. Many of her books are reviewed on Goodreads.
I hope you’ll treat yourself to a Pearl Buck novel and make it an even Happier New Year!
… or the early morning sky, in my case.
For almost a week I have noticed a extra-bright light in the still-dark southeast sky before I go to work. At first I thought it was an airplane; it’s not uncommon for me to stand out on my balcony and see a brilliant light in the sky heading toward me until it is almost overhead, and then turning north to the airport.
But this one just sat there, blazing. Was it a comet? I didn’t remember hearing about a comet, but was curious so I Googled it. I landed on Time and Date’s “Planets Visible in the Night Sky” . There on the The Interactive Night Sky Map you can see what the night sky looks like–at this very moment, at your exact location. And there was my bright light and the crescent moon exactly where I saw them.
The luminous orb turned out to be my old friend, Venus, “the morning star” whom I’ve long admired. But I still didn’t know why it seemed so much brighter than usual.
I got my answer on EarthSky.org:
Venus is brightest in our sky around the time it passes between us and the sun. Astronomers call this its “greatest illuminated extent”. In 2018, Venus will reach its greatest illuminated extent in the morning sky on December 1 or 2, 2018. You can read more about it here.
And also, by coincidence, it turns out that right now there is a comet we can see! Wirtanen, the last comet of 2018, will be visible throughout December. In my area, the best time to see it is from about 7:30 to 9:45 PM.
Ah, the sky!
Such joy to the eye!
In you we can see
Seek the one who fashions the Pleiades and Orion, who turns the deep darkness into morning, who darkens day into night, who calls out to the waters of the sea, pouring them out onto the surface of the earth: the LORD is his name. (Amos 5:8)
Image at CC0is licensed under
Ever since I learned about Canada’s ecosystems while researching my book Respect Our World-Sustainability, I have had the topic on my radar. I am very thrilled about Parks Canada’s announcement that after 140 years of absence, bison have been reintroduced to Banff National Park! Right in my backyard!
This is not only an ecological triumph, it is also a move to show respect and a spirit of reconciliation with our First Nations people throughout the country, who are very near and dear to my heart.
Treat yourselves to an inspiring story, and some gorgeous scenery in this video!