January 21, 2004

My Lady Caprice, Jeffery Farnol

I was hoping for a sillier novel, possibly involving rose-pink farthingales and masked highwaymen with slender white hands; but no. (I based this hope entirely on the title. The first bibliography of Jeffery Farnol I found suggests that he often did write that sort of thing, but I don't know if I subconsciously knew the name, or if the title was a 1907 attempt to cash in on his existing lace-and-duelling popularity.)

This one is a perfectly realistic, if unlikely, romance: Boy Persuades Girl to Marry Him Despite her Aunt. If you can imagine the courtship of someone who liked E. R. Eddison but didn't mistake him for philosophy, that would be about right; or the courtship of the Victorian young man in To Say Nothing of the Dog. It was written in the young man's voice, which was mildly interesting, as it wasn't obvious to me that it was meant to be read only by women.

The young woman doesn't get to do anything. She shows her slipper and her dimple alternately, and is silent for a while, and eventually says Yes. Her reasons are perfectly solid, as the young man shares her sense of humor and opinions on childrearing; her rich suitor is a drip.

Most of the story is actually the narrator and the maiden's nephew in a series of imaginative games; Robin Hood, pirates, knights in armor; all of romance and heroism played on a summer riverbank, and earnestly. But I kept thinking of World War One.

URI: http://www.gutenberg.net/browse/BIBREC/BR2025.HTM

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