Skip to main content

Review: The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh, by Linda Colley

Pages: 361
Original date of publication: 2007
My edition: 2008 (Anchor Books)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: LibraryThing Secret Santa, December 2010

Elizabeth Marsh was truly an interesting and remarkable woman. Conceived in Jamaica and born in 1735, Marsh literally traveled from the time she was in the womb. She visited Morocco, the Mediterranean, Florida, and India. The books covers not only Elizabeth’s story, but her family’s and, by extension, world history. Because her father and grandfather were shipbuilders, Marsh’s life was linked to the English Royal Navy and the world of the British Empire. It was a time when there was a growing awareness of and connections between various cultures of the world, and Marsh’s story in some part personalizes that experience.

In some ways, her life and adventures were similar to those of Eliza Fay, who wrote her “Letters” from India roughly a generation later. Both were lower-middle class (if you could use that term for 18th century social classes); both married and followed their husbands to India; both had unusual adventures in captivity and out of it. Marsh also kept a record of her travels, mainly from her Moroccan and Indian journeys. There is an unusually large record of Marsh’s life and the lives of her ancestors, which the authors drew from in order to write this book. Unlike Eliza Fay, however, you don’t really get a feel for what Marsh might have been like; certainly she was intrepid and adventurous, but you don’t get much of a concrete sense of her personality beyond that. I would have loved to have read actual passages in their whole from the diary.

Still, the book does a great job of tying Marsh’s story in with the larger events of the period. The book is punctuated throughout with black and white and color portraits and pictures.


Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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:, 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…