Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Cathedral Courtship  -  1893
Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin
48 pages
genre  - Romance
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

American-born Katharine and her elderly Aunt Celia are on a tour of England to see its famous cathedral churches. While visiting the Winchester Cathedral, an architect (Jack Copley) sees the two ladies and is smitten with the lovely Katharine. Of course, in those days you just don't introduce yourself. Luckily for Jack, Katharine drops a copy of their itinerary and he is able to follow the pair from town to town in hopes of getting to know Katharine. It's amazing the lengths Jack is willing to go to in order to be with her.

Katherine and Aunt Celia's third stop is in Bath.  My favorite part of the story is when Jack anonymously sends Katherine of copy of Jane Austen's Persuasion.  "...I had forgotten that the scene is partly laid in Bath, and now I can follow dear Anne and vain Sir Walter, hateful Elizabeth and scheming Mrs. Clay through Camden Place and Bath Street, Union Street, Milsom Street and the Pump Yard...I wonder if Anne herself was any more excited than I?"

The story is written in the first person perspective.  Each chapter is titled "She" or "He" depending on whose viewpoint it is.

There is formatting trouble with the Amazon ebook. The preface is right aligned and the main story center aligned with the page numbers in the middle of the sentences. I would suggest using Project Gutenberg to read this delightful tale.   No formatting issues,  you can see the wonderful illustrations, and read the interesting preface.

About the author  -

Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin was born Sept. 28, 1856 in Philadelphia, the daughter Robert N. Smith, a lawyer.  Her education was spotty, consisting of a short stint at a "dame school", some home schooling, a brief spell at the district school, a year as a boarder at the Gorham Female Seminary, a winter term at Morison Academy in Maryland, and a few months' stay at Abbot Academy, Massachusetts.

In 1873, the family moved to California. A kindergarten training class was opening in Los Angeles, and Kate enrolled. After graduation, in 1878, she headed the first free kindergarten in California, in the slums of San Francisco. The children were "street Arabs of the wildest type", but Kate had a loving personality and dramatic flair. By 1880 she was forming a teacher-training school in conjunction with her kindergarten.

In 1881, Kate married (Samuel) Bradley Wiggin, a San Francisco lawyer.  Ironically, considering her intense love of children, Wiggin had none. The Wiggins moved to New York City in 1888. When her husband died suddenly in 1889, Kate relocated to Maine.

In 1895, Kate Wiggin married a New York City businessman, George Christopher Riggs, who became a staunch supporter as her success grew.  She wrote the classic children's novel Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm in 1903, as well as the 1905 best-seller Rose o' the River.

Wiggin became ill and died, at age 66, of bronchial pneumonia. At her request, her ashes were taken to Maine and scattered over the Saco River.

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