September 21st, 2011

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

In the recent past, I read three books from Osprey.

First was Osprey Raid #22: Decatur's Bold and Daring Act: The Philadelphia in Tripoli 1804, a naval raid intended to keep an American frigate out of the hands of the Barbary Pirates. Took place in a Libyan port, before it was Libya...

Second was Osprey Fortress #66: The Castles of Henry VIII built to protect England and Henry from the wrath of the Papacy.

Last was Osprey Warrior #156: Early Roman Warrior 753 - 321 BC which predates the Empire; deals with the early raids in Italy.
book and cup

#94 The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow - Mrs Oliphant (1890) (Persephone)


From Persephone Books
Persephone Book No. 89, is The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow. And the novelist Penelope Fitzgerald's claim was that ‘Mrs Oliphant is at her very best in novellas and short stories.’ She suggested that two of them, The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow (1890) and Queen Eleanor and Fair Rosamond (1886), might well be reprinted together, which is what we have now done, and pointed out that the strongest theme running through all the books is that of the helpless man and the strong woman.
Both novellas are about women left on their own to run their own households. In one, Penelope Fitzgerald continues, ‘Mrs Blencarrow, a conventional widow with a large estate, falls in love with her coarse-mannered steward, and in the other the wife, Mrs Lycett-Landon, finds out that her husband has made a bigamous marriage.


Both the novellas in this book run along similar lines. The women are the stonger characters and drive the narrative, the men who are cause of their problems, have a lesser role, are weaker and less reliable.
Considering their themes of broken marriages, these novellas seem very un-Victorian like. Victorian society rules touch both central female characters: In the title novella, society is a harsh critic of Mrs Blencarrow when rumours of her secret marriage begin the circulate. In the second, Mrs Lycett-Landon avoids scandal and gossip, by keeping the truth of her husbands defection to herself.
This is a slight book, beautifully written, the tension of each plot, just right. These novellas sit perfectly together. Persephone do publish such charming books, and this is no exception.