Book Reviews

There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset (1924)

There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882 – 1961) was the first novel by this American editor, poet, essayist, educator, and author associated closely with the Harlem Renaissance movement.

In addition to her own pursuits, Cornell-educated Fauset was known as one of the “literary midwives” of the movement, as someone who encouraged and supported other talents. 

Fauset’s poetic bent is reflected in the novel’s title, which comes from lines in “The Lotos-Eaters” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Read More→


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Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter: Revisiting the Eternal Optimist

The 1913 novel Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter is perhaps less familiar now than the lasting expression that grew from its sentimental story.

Most everyone knows what defines  a “Pollyanna” — someone who looks at the bright side of things no matter how dire, or who paints an overly optimistic picture of any situation. 

Pollyanna, subtitled “The Glad Book,” was incredibly successful from the start, and inspired many adaptations in other media. Though intended as a children’s novel, it appealed to all ages. Read More→


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The Years by Virginia Woolf (1937) — views from the past and present

The Years by Virginia Woolf (1937) was the last novel she had published in her lifetime. Spanning some fifty years, it covers the trajectory of the respectable Pargiter family from the 1880s to the 1930s.

One of its overarching themes is the passage of time, and it does so by detailing small, mostly private moments of the characters lives. Still, it moves away from the stream of consciousness style that she’s best known for, and into a more traditional narrative.

The novel is less internal than most of Virginia Woolf’s books, and traces the lives of the Pargiter family and the dailyness of their existence. From the Penguin Modern Classics edition: Read More→


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A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter (1909)

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter (1863 – 1924) was the author’s third novel, published in 1909 as a sequel to Freckles (1905), both of which are stories for “children of all ages.”

Gene was enchanted by the great outdoors from an early age, and was encouraged by her parents to explore her surroundings. Her love of nature served as the foundation for her career as a naturalist, photographer, and writer.

In the course of her early explorations, Gene came upon the Limberlost Swamp near her home in rural Indiana. There she discovered birds, butterflies, and wildflowers that captured her imagination. Read More→


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A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf: Two 1929 reviews + quotes

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf has stood the test of time, though the fact that it remains relevant is a sorry statement of contemporary culture. Following are presented two reviews from both sides of the Atlantic, plus a selection of quotes.

Based on two lectures Woolf delivered in the late 1920s at Newnham and Girton Colleges, two women’s colleges in Britain, it has since become a classic feminist text.

First published in 1929 by Hogarth Press, a publishing company in the U.K. that the author herself ran with her husband, Leonard Woolf, it was also published by Harcourt, Brace in the U.S. that same year.

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