Book Reviews

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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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

Though Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849 – 1924) wrote more than forty novels, The Secret Garden (1911) remains one of her most enduring works, along with A Little Princess (1905).

Burnett was a poet and playwright in addition to her prolific output of novels and short stories for adults and children. Quite successful professionally, she had a difficult, sometimes tragic life.

The Secret Garden was published in 1911 after an original version was first serialized in The American Magazine in 1910. The story follows the journey of Mary Lennox, a sickly and unloved ten-year-old girl born to wealthy British parents in India. Read More→

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Don’t Tell Alfred By Nancy Mitford (1960)

Don’t Tell Alfred (1960) was the last novel by British author Nancy Mitford (1904 –1973) and the final installment of the loose trilogy encompassing The Pursuit of Love (1945) and Love in a Cold Climate (1949). 

Like the two previous novels, Don’t Tell Alfred is narrated by Frances (“Fanny”) Wincham. It takes place some twenty years after the previous two (whose timelines were more or less concurrent) and focuses on the narrator herself.

The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate are told from her perspective but have different main characters, both of whom are cousins of Fanny. Read More→

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Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford (1949)

Love in a Cold Climate (1949) was the follow-up novel to The Pursuit of Love (1945) by British novelist, biographer, and journalist Nancy Mitford (1904 – 1973).

Not a sequel but a companion volume of sorts to its predecessor, like Mitford’s other novels, it satirized upper-class life in England. 

The Pursuit of Love was Mitford’s fifth novel but her first breakaway success, selling two hundred thousand copies within the first year. It set the stage for Love in a Cold Climate, which proved to be equally successful.  Read More→

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