June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Victorian fiction remains popular

Books taking place in the Victorian era have been popular for many years, starting with literary giant Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes mysteries. What do readers find so appealing about Victorian stories? One of the main themes is the contradiction between the “proper behavior” accepted by the society of the time and real behavior carried out by both aristocrats and working-class people. Another is the lack of freedom felt most often by women because of strict moral and social standards.

There are many more authors and titles that could exemplify great Victorian fiction, but here is a sampling of some recent titles you might enjoy:

“The Sealed Letter” by Emma Donoghue
Based on true events, Donoghue writes the deliciously scandalous story of Helen, wife of an admiral in the Queen’s Navy, and her extramarital affair that leads to a very public and messy divorce. The author’s thorough research and excellent character portrayals make this a most entertaining novel.

“The Luxe” by Anna Godberson
Written for young adults but loved by both young and older readers, this is the story of Elizabeth and Diana Holland, well-to-do sisters of one of New York society’s great families. It’s 1899, the end of the Victorian Era, and Elizabeth has just gotten engaged. But it’s not to the young man she loves. Besides, her fiancé is enthralled with someone else (hint: it’s the other sister). How far will Elizabeth go to avoid a loveless marriage?

“Kept: A Victorian Mystery” by D.J. Taylor
Peppered with eccentric characters, this absorbing, many-layered novel focuses on the investigation of a riding accident that leaves Henry Ireland dead and his high-strung wife a captive in a sinister naturalist’s home. Will her cousins find her before she becomes the naturalist’s next trophy?

“And Only To Deceive” by Tasha Alexander
After Viscount Ashton is killed on safari shortly after their wedding, his bride Emily discovers letters and diaries that open her eyes and heart to the man she barely knew. In order to learn more about the Viscount’s passion for art, Emily spends time at the British Museum, where she unearths a mystery involving stolen masterpieces.

“A Flaw In the Blood” by Stephanie Barron
The popular author of the Jane Austen Mystery series creates a rich, haunting story of pursuit. After being summoned by the Queen as Prince Albert lay dying, Patrick Fitzgerald, the Queen’s attorney, must flee London after his carriage is attacked. Along with his ward, the niece of the Queen’s personal physician, Patrick must piece together a royal secret before it’s too late.

Olson is an outreach librarian with Medina County District Library.