Skip to main content

Review: The Three Miss Kings, by Ada Cambridge


Pages: 314
Original date of publication:1891
My edition: 1987 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: LibraryThing recommendation
How I acquired my copy: Awesomebooks, February 2011


The Three Miss Kings of the title are Elizabeth, Patty and Eleanor, three young women from provincial Victoria, Australia. After their parents die, the three sisters move to Melbourne, chaperoned by one of society’s matrons, who, having no children of her own, adopts the girls as her own. While in Melbourne, the sisters become acquainted with Paul Brion, a newspaperman towards whom Patty instantly develops antagonism. The novel follows the girls through a year in their lives as they deal with the ins and outs of Melbourne society—developing, as they do so, romantic interests.

It’s a novel based on the classic Victorian sensationalist format; these books invariably have a case of hidden identity, a thorny legal problem, and a “will they or won’t they get together?” romantic storyline. This novel has all three of them, including a family mystery. Ada Cambridge’s style is less refined than, say, Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s, but she’s a good storyteller, and even though I thought I knew in the back of my mind what was going to happen, I was still a bit surprised. Still, there was a bit of predictablility to the plot; anyone can see from a mile away that Paul and Patty will end up together. Also, everything is wrapped up nice and neatly at the end; almost too nicely and neatly. The ending is typically Victorian, too; not many women today would make the exact same choices that the King sisters do (or they would make them for different reasons).

Cambridge is skilled at drawing characters; there’s a strong delineation between the three sisters, although poor Eleanor gets short-changed in favor of her more interesting sisters. Amonst the love interests, I thought Kingscote Yelverton was a bit of a bore. Paul Brion is the real hero of the story, and his relationship with Patty is the most interesting of the three romances in this book. Another favorite character of mine was Mrs. Duff-Scott, the society matron who adopts the King sisters, a true mother even if she has no children of her own to lavish affection on. The novel was interesting to me also as an example of Australian literature, and how Melbourne society tried to hard to emulate European ideals and interests; sometimes while reading the book, I forgot that it was set in Australia! This is an enjoyable novel, but rather quaint.

Comments

Danielle said…
If she compares favorably to Mary Braddon I'm going to have to add her to my reading list! I love Victorian sensationalist novels and I have never heard of Ada Cambridge before! Thanks for the heads up.

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…