Skip to main content

Review: Miss Marjoribanks, by Margaret Oliphant


Pages: 547 (with index and notes)
Original date of publication: 1866
My edition: 1998 (Penguin Classics edition)
Why I decided to read: It’s been on my TBR list for ages
How I acquired my copy: through Amazon with a gift card, September 2009


Miss Marjoribanks is the story of Lucilla Marjoribanks, a young woman who endeavors to improve the social life of the town of Carlingford and “be a comfort to [her] dear papa.” Lucilla admits freely that she has no sense of humor; but at the same time she has an infallible desire to organize things to her own satisfaction. Whether she’s choosing draperies (to match her own complexion, of course), arranging her neighbors’ marriages, or electioneering, Lucilla is an spirited woman who inevitably learns that she “had to undergo the mortification of finding out that many of her most able efforts turned to other people’s profit and went directly against herself.” This book is not only a story of Lucilla, but the middle-class town she lives in, filled with people who have social and professional ambitions.

What I love about Margaret Oliphant’s writing is that she really knows and understands her characters’ thoughts and motivations. Lucilla could easily turn into a easily-disliked character, except for the fact that her flaws are what make her so lovable. This novel is intended to be a satire; how I laughed when in all seriousness Lucilla says, at age nineteenth, that she will have begun to “go off” at age 29! And Lucilla isn’t the only character who is so well-defined; the other young ladies and gentlemen of Carlingford easily leap off the page. Margaret Oliphant’s writing style is easily readable, even for modern readers. It’s a long book, and there are some parts in the middle where the action starts to flag; but in all this is a wonderful novel, containing as it does wonderful characters and writing—as well as a little mystery involving mistaken identities.

By the way—tomorrow is Margaret Oliphant’s birthday—she’d be 182!

Comments

Kristen M. said…
This one has been on my wishlist for a long time as well. I definitely need to add it in to my next book order!
Joanne said…
Interesting that yesterday you reviewed a recent book published by the title, "Hester." I read Margaret Oliphant's book "Hester" long ago and enjoyed it. I agree--this Victorian novelist's works can still be read and enjoyed by today's modern reader.
Teddy Rose said…
I hadn't heard of this book or author before. Thanks so much for bring it to my attention. It sounds like a must read for classics lovers.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…