Sunday, June 28, 2009


Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single,

All things by a law divine

In one another's being mingle—

Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven,

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdain'd its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea—

What are all these kissings worth,

If thou kiss not me?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts."

-Charles Dickens

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?

By- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

My Top Ten

Here's a list of my top ten favorite books (so far):

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
Hester (Margaret Oliphant)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
The Woman In White (Wilkie Collins)
The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
Emma (Jane Austen)
Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)

How does this list compare to yours? What would you change or add?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Agnes Grey: A Review

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Agnes Grey was first published in 1847. In what appears to be an autobiographical rendering, Anne Bronte, the sister of Charlotte and Emily, seems to draw heavily from her own life in this Victorian classic.

The story begins as Agnes Grey's family fall on hard times. Although young, with very little world experience, she is determined to help her family, financially, by hiring herself out as a governess.

Agnes manages to find a job as governess and companion to the children of some wealthy people, but finds the working conditions intolerable and leaves. She eventually is hired by the Murray family and stays with them even though her life is still miserable.

After meeting Mr. Weston, a local curate, Agnes becomes more positive and dreams of a life with him.

Although, I feel the story lacks depth, it does carry strong messages on morality and self-respect, and gives the reader a realistic glimpse into the life Anne Bronte probably experienced.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Margaret Oliphant

A few weeks ago I read "Hester" by Margaret Oliphant. It was the first book I had read by her and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. I thought it would be interesting to have a comprehensive list of her works, so listed below are what I believe to be all of her novels.

Novels by Margaret Oliphant

1849-Margaret Maitland
1851-Caleb Field
1851-John Drayton
1852-Adam Graeme of Mossgray
1852-The Melvilles
1852-Katie Stewart
1853-Harry Muir
1854-Magdalen Hepburn
1854-The Quiet Heart
1855-Christian Melville
1857-The Athelings
1857-The Days of My Life
1858-The Laird of Norlaw
1858-Orphans: a Chapter in Life
1858-Agnes Hopetown's Schools and Holidays
1860-Lucy Crofton
1860-The House on the Moor
The Last of the Mortimers
1863-Heart and Cross
1863-The Rector and the Doctor's Family
1863-Salem Chapel
1864-The Perpetual Curate
1866-Miss Marjoribanks
1866-A Son of the Soil
1866-Madonna Mary
1869-The Minister's Wife
1870-John: a Love Story
1870-The Three Brothers
1871-Squire Arden
1872-At His Gates
1873-Innocent: a Tale of Modern Life
1874-For Love and Life
1874-A Rose in June
1875-The Story of Valentine and his Brother
1876-The Curate in Charge
1876-An Odd Couple
1876-Phoebe Junior
1877-Mrs Arthur
1877-Young Musgrave
1878-The Primrose Path
1879-The Greatest Heiress in England
1879-Within the Precincts
1880-He that Will Not When He May
1880-A Beleaguered City
1881-Harry Joscelyn
1882-In Trust
1882-A Little Pilgrim in the Unseen
1883-Hester: A story of Contemporary Life
1883-It Was a Lover and His Lass
1883-The Ladies Lindores
1884-Sir Tom
1884-The Wizard's Son
1886-A Country Gentleman and His Family
1886-Effie Ogilvie
1886-A House Divided Against Itself
1886-Oliver's Bride
1887-The Son of His Father
1888-Cousin Mary
1889-Lady Car
1888-The Second Son
1888-The Land of Darkness
1889-Neighbours on the Green
1889-A Poor Gentleman
1890-The Duke's Daughter and The Fugitives
1890-The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow
1890-Sons and Daughters
1891-The Railway Man and His Children
1892-The Cuckoo in the Nest
1892-Diana Trelawny
1892-The Heir Presumptive and the Heir Apparent
1892-The Marriage of Elinor
1893-Lady William
1893-The Sorceress
1894-A House in Bloomsbury
1894-The Prodigals and Their Inheritance
1894-Who Was Lost and Is Found
1895-Sir Robert's Fortune
1895-Two Strangers
1896-Old Mr Tredgold
1896-The Two Marys and Grove Road
1896-The Unjust Steward
1897-The Lady's Walk
1898-That Little Cutty
1898-A Widow's Tale

Are you acquainted with Ms. Oliphant's work? Which would you recommend?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Broken Wing: A Review

"Broken Wing"
By- Judith James
440 pages
Publisher-Medallion Press

Sarah, Lady Munroe, better known as the Gypsy Countess, and her half brother Ross, Earl of Huntington, are in search of their little brother James. He has gone missing; they have hired investigators to hunt for him. Upon hearing the news that their baby brother has been found living in one of the finer Parisian brothels, the two set out to bring him home to the safey of their family, though expecting the worst.

Arriving is Paris, Sarah and Ross find James has not been harmed, only because a male prostitute, Gabriel, has befriended the little boy and protected him at all costs.

Gabriel is intelligent, musically gifted, and handsome, but has known nothing else but life in the high-class brothel, having been brought there as a child, himself.

Little James is insistent that Sarah and Ross obtain Gabriel's freedom and bring him home to live with them as the child's companion. They offer Gabriel the position, which he accepts, and strike an expensive deal with Madame Etienne for Gabriel's release.

This is where the love story begins and what a love story it is! Taking place in the Napoleonic era, it is full of secrecy, danger, suspense, and intense romantic devotion and desire. It takes the reader on a whirlwind adventure into the lives of Sarah, Gabriel, Ross, Gypsy Davey, and an assortment of other interesting characters.

Judith James has created a well written, sexy, fast moving, extraordinary book that the reader can barely lay aside once they open the book and begin to read.

Readers who are looking for historical romance, high adventure, a page-turner, and don't mind adult content, will love this book as much as I did.

Note: Thanks to Judith James for my review copy.

(I'm reviewing the book on this blog because it is so close to the Victorian era. You can also find the review at The Serenity Gate.)

Happy reading!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Victorian English Tea Time

One of the most elegant traditions of the Victorian Era was Tea Time, which was usually set for 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. We often read about it in Victorian novels.

I have participated in High Tea once in my life, on a 7-day ocean cruise. Tea was served each afternoon at 4:00 p.m. in the dining room, by waiters in formal attire. There were fabulous breads, butters and spreads, finger sandwiches, small cakes and tarts, tiny cookies, and of course, hot tea, served in fine china. I could have lived on that ship for the rest of my life, partaking of tea every day!

For more information on English Tea Time, you can go here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Charles Dickens

How many of the following books by Charles Dickens have you read and which is your favorite?

1.The Pickwick Papers
2.Oliver Twist
3.Nicholas Nickleby
4.The Old Curiosity Shop
5.Barnaby Rudge
6.Martin Chuzzlewit
7.A Christmas Carol
8.Dombey and Son
9.David Copperfield
10.Bleak House
11.Hard Times
12.Little Dorrit
13.A Tale of Two Cities
14.Great Expectations
15.Our Mutual Friend
16.The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lady of Shallot

The Lady of Shallot
John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

This painting was fashioned after the poem "The Lady of Shallot"
by- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

-Emily Dickinson
(Doesn't this poem remind us of just how very big the little things are?)

Hester - A Review

By Margaret Oliphant
(Oxford World Classics)

Catherine Vernon was 65 years old and a wealthy spinster. This did not mean that Catherine had never been in love. On the contrary, she had been engaged in her young adulthood, to her cousin, John Vernon. Sadly, John, who was the head of the family bank, had fallen in love with another woman, and to everyone's surprise, had jilted Catherine. The betrayal had broken her trusting heart.

To make matters worse, John had suddenly run away after embezzling money from the bank, almost ruining the great institution. Catherine stepped in at the last moment-- putting every penny of her own fortune on the line. She became the beloved heroine of the community -- a person of great integrity.

As fate would have it, life comes full circle when John's daughter and widow come back into Catherine's life.

This is not only the story of Catherine, but also the story of young Hester (John's daughter), and the three men who are in love with her. It's the story of the lust for money, power, and control; the story of resentment and rebellion; of flirtation and love. It is a story of a fascinating relationship between two rival women--one in the blossom of youth and the other in the winter of her life.

Ms. Oliphant wrote over 100 novels in her lifetime -- "Hester" being one of the most popular. It is beautifully written with strong character development; a Victorian masterpiece. If you like reading Jane Austen or Wilkie Collins, you are sure to enjoy Margaret Oliphant's "Hester."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnet 27 - My own Beloved, who hast lifted me

My own Beloved, who hast lifted me

From this drear flat of earth where I was thrown,

And, in betwixt the languid ringlets, blown

A life-breath, till the forehead hopefully

Shines out again, as all the angels see,

Before thy saving kiss! My own, my own,

Who camest to me when the world was gone,

And I who looked for only God, found thee!

I find thee; I am safe, and strong, and glad.

As one who stands in dewless asphodel

Looks backward on the tedious time he had

In the upper life,—so I, with bosom-swell,

Make witness, here, between the good and bad,

That Love, as strong as Death, retrieves as well.

By- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

After reading this poem, which line do you like best?

Saturday, June 6, 2009


The Human Seasons

Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;

There are four seasons in the mind of man:

He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear

Takes in all beauty with an easy span:

He has his Summer, when luxuriously

Spring's honied cud of youthful thought he loves

To ruminate, and by such dreaming high

Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves

His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings

He furleth close; contented so to look

On mists in idleness--to let fair things

Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,

Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

By- John Keats

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jane Austen Quote....

“What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!”
-Jane Austen

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

The Woman In Black
By- Susan Hill
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David R Godine (February 1, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1567921892

Arthur Kipps, a happy man, is enjoying a Victorian Christmas Eve with his family. As the lights are turned down and the family sits around the fireplace, someone suggests telling ghosts stories. Arthur refuses. The guests insist until Arthur storms out of the house into the snowy holiday night.

He does have a ghost story to tell, but one that he had rather forget. After his initial uneasiness subsides, he decides to write his story, and so it begins.

I had never heard of author, Susan Hill, before reading The Woman In Black, but must say this is a first class thriller that provides the chills we seek in a book of this genre. It provides enjoyable controlled horror without going over the top with intense repugnance.

The Woman In Black has been compared to The Haunting of Hill House by the great writer, Shirley Jackson.

Susan Hill, has also written, just to name a few:

The Man In The Picture

The Vows of Silence

The Mist In The Mirror

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jane Austen Victorian Classics

Everyone loves Jane Austen.....

Below is a list of her famous, beloved works. How many have you read from this list and which are your favorites?

1. Sense and Sensibility

2. Pride and Prejudice

3. Mansfield Park

4. Emma

5. Northanger Abbey

6. Persuasion

7. Lady Susan

8. Love and Friendship

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bracelet Winner!

The winner of the Victorian Teapot bracelet is Ms Lucy. Congratulations!

Please email your address, so I can send your bracelet right out.

Thanks to all who entered. There will be another drawing shortly.