Book Reviews

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (1915)

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery is the third installment of the beloved series that follows Anne Shirley from her orphaned childhood through her years as college student, teacher, wife, and mother.

Anne of Green Gables, the first of this series by the beloved Canadian author, was published in 1908, was quickly followed by Anne of Avonlea in 1909.

Readers must have been eagerly awaiting more of Anne’s adventures, as, with a gap of six years, Anne of the Island didn’t appear until 1915 (though she did play a small role in Chronicles of Avonlea, 1912). Read More→

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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961): Opposing Reviews

Scottish-born Dame Muriel Spark (1918 – 2006) was a prolific novelist, short story writer, poet, and biographer. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) would become her best-known and most enduring work. Here are two opposing reviews of the novel from when it was first published.

The tale of a middle-aged Edinburgh schoolteacher was immortalized in the 1969 film starring a young Maggie Smith, now is considered a cinematic classic. It was also adapted as a Broadway play.

When the slim novel first came out, it received generally excellent reviews, but they weren’t universal, as you’ll see in the somewhat dour review that ran in the London Observer. Read More→

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The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (1922)

The Enchanted April, the 1922 novel by the elusive Elizabeth Von Arnim, has stood the test of time as a journey of friendship and self-discovery.

Certain stories possess an irresistible charm that beckons readers to embark on captivating journeys of the heart and mind. Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel, The Enchanted April  is one such masterpiece, fueling the imagination and evoking a sense of wonder.

The Enchanted April is a lighthearted (yet not lightweight) tale of freedom to live an authentic life, and the transformative power of female friendship. This literary gem continues to engage readers even after a century, effortlessly weaving together picturesque landscapes, relatable characters, and heartfelt emotions. Read More→

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The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1901)

The Making of a Marchioness is a 1901 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the prolific British-American author better known for timeless children’s classics.

The author of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess wrote many novels for adult readers, though none have been as enduring as those for “children of all ages.”

Relating the story of Emily Fox-Seton, The Making of a Marchioness  was followed by a sequel in the same year: The Methods of Lady Walderhurst was also published in 1901. Soon after, the two books were combined into one volume, Emily Fox-Seton, named for the heroine. Read More→

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Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

Cold Comfort Farm by British author Stella Gibbons (1902– 1989) is a comic novel that satirized the over-romanticized rural novel of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

It was said to be a send-up of what was called the “loam and lovechild” genre, poking fun at purple prose by deliberately including passages even more purple. The book was an immediate critical and popular success.

In 1933, the novel won the prestigious French literary prize, the Prix Femina, which angered fellow British author Virginia Woolf, who felt that her friend, Elizabeth Bowen, was more deserving of that year’s prize. Read More→

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