Friday, August 30, 2013

The Thing From the Lake  -  1921
Eleanor Maria Ingram
192 pages
genre  -  Light Horror
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

The story begins with this: "The house cried out to me for help...this is not the story of a haunted house. It is, or was, a beleaguered house; strangely sieged..."

Wanting to avoid the miserable summer months in New York City, 32-year-old Roger Locke has just purchased a neglected farmhouse in Connecticut. The first time Locke sees the lake on his property, he feels "a shock of violent dislike." And his first night in the house, he surprises an intruder. An intruder that leaves behind a braid of thick, auburn hair!

But Locke is not in danger from the intruder. It is the malevolence that lurks in the lake, that spills over to the house, enveloping the structure with its "hungry malignance". The story is very well told. I was instantly captivated, and my attention was held all the way 'til the end. And I REALLY liked the ending! This would make an awesome movie!

There are no formatting issues with Amazon's ebook.  (But I may have been too engrossed in the story!) The book was copyrighted in 1921, so I assume the story occurs in that time period. Locke drives a roadster, uses a flashlight, telephones are common and there was a reference to Armistice Day just occurring.

About the author  - 

I found very little about Ms. Ingram (1886 - 1921) on the internet, so I will mention a few things about two of her books.

The September 28, 1922 issue of The Christian Century refers to The Thing as “a strange tale that almost suggests Poe,” high praise indeed.

A 1921 issue of the literary magazine Long Lines says “there are passages that bring the hair on the back of your neck straight up to attention.”

Ingram's novel The Unafraid (1913) was made into a silent movie by the same name.  It was directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starred Rita Jolivet.  Just after filming The Unafraid, Ms. Jolivet sailed on and survived the last voyage of the Lusitania when the ship was torpedoed on 7 May 1915.


Monday, August 26, 2013

A Night in the Snow or, A Struggle For Life  -  1866
Rev. E. Donald Carr
68 pages
genre  -  Memoir
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

On the afternoon of January 29th, the Rev. E. Donald Carr begins his 4-mile walk home after conducting a service in the village of Ratlinghope. It had been snowing heavily, but since he had walked this way nearly 2500 times, Carr admits he thought that he would have no difficulty finding his way.

Rev. Carr begins his story describing the terrain of Long Mynd, Shropshire England so that we understand what type of obstacles he would have to cross. He says that "the aspect of the south-eastern or Stretton side [of Long Mynd mountain] is wild in the extreme, the whole face of the mountain being broken up into deep ravines, with precipitous sides, where purple rocks project boldly through the turf".

Rev. Carr tells his story quite calmly. I was amazed at how coolly he talked about frost bite and snow blindness. He describes crawling through snow drifts, falling down numerous hillsides, the gales literally blowing him off his feet and "masses of ice (that) developed into a long crystal beard." Rev. Carr's endurance was astounding.

Considering that this story was published 147 years ago, it was remarkably easy to read. The only formatting problem I saw was page numbers in the middle of sentences of Amazon's ebook. Luckily this only happens 6 times. Very interesting story. Would make a wonderful movie.

About the author  -

Edmund Donald Carr, B.A. Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  Rector of Woolstaston 1865-1900.  Died June, 1900.

For more information on this beautiful area of England, and for more information on Rev. Carr, check out this website:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Martha By-The-Day  -  1912
Julie M. Lippmann
136 pages
genre  -  Romance
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

"Claire Lang had been standing in the drenching wet at the street-crossing for fully ten minutes.  The badgering crowd had been shouldering her one way, pushing her the other..."  Suddenly Claire finds herself out in the street and then, just as suddenly ..."she was back again in her old place on the curbstone."

Claire was rescued by Martha Slawson.  Martha is a "...woman of masculine proportions, towering, deep-chested, large-limbed, but with a face which belied all these..." 

The above picture is what Google eBook uses for their cover. 

Martha has an interesting philosophy:  "I don't believe in lyin' awake, thinkin' about the future, when a body can put in good licks o' sleep, restin' from the past.  It's against my principles.  I'm by the day.  I work by the day, an' I live by the day."

The book is about Martha and how she manages to care for the people around her; her husband, children, mother-in-law, the other tenants in her apartment building, and especially her new young friend, Claire. 

My favorite line in the book?  Martha says to her husband:  "I wisht you'd be good to yourself an' have a shave.  Them prickles o' beard reminds me o' the insides o' Mrs. Sherman's big music box.  I wonder what tune you'd play if I run your chin in."

About the author  - 

Julie Mathilde Lippman (1864-1952) was an author of novels and plays and was a political activist. Best known for her novel Martha-By-The-Day, which she successfully adapted to the stage in 1919, Lippman came to know Louisa May Alcott while still a teenager, and later became friends with Mark Twain, Charles Dudley Warner, actor and playwright William Gillette, and other writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Lippmann was a fervent supporter of Theodore Roosevelt, took part in the womens' suffrage movement, and also wrote propaganda for the Allied cause during the First World War.

After many years of residence in New York City Lippman moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, at the age of eighty-five, to live with her niece, and died in that city three years later.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Gold That Glitters The Mistakes of Jenny Lavender  -  1896
Emily Sarah Holt
60 pages
genre  -  Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction
my rating  -  3 out of 5 stars

I learned a lot reading this short story. The author manages to teach us about Charles II and life in 1651, while reminding her readers of Christian values. That's quite a bit packed into a few pages.

I especially enjoyed the sermon given by a strange preacher in Chapter 5. He spoke about blessings, desiring salvation, and wants vs. needs.

I ended up doing some research about 'Will Jackson', if a common family would have had their own Bible to study back then, and if 'unequally yoked' was a concept known at least when this story was written (1896) much less in the year 1651.

Go ahead and read this, and then if you want to know more about a certain character in the story experiencing ordinary life, read Georgette Heyer's Royal Escape.

About the author  - 

Emily Sarah Holt (1836-1893) was an English novelist.  She wrote about fifty books, mainly for children. Most of her work can be classified as historical novels. Her work has a Protestant religious theme.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Song -  1786
Helen Maria Williams
6 stanzas, 24 lines
genre  -  poetry
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

Yesterday I was reading a fanfic of Austen's Emma called Jane and the Bow Street Runner by Sarah Waldock.  In the book it mentions a poetess named ..."Helen Maria Williams, a lady of great literary energy and a penchant for making up fancifully romantic names for her heroines..." I wondered if the poetess was a real person.  She sure is. 

In 1786 Williams published a book titled Poems.  In this book is a short piece called "A Song".  The poem is short and to the point: would you rather have your lover with you and be poor or him wandering the world trying to become rich so you both can live an easy life?

Considering the poem was written over 227 years ago, it was remarkably easy to read.  You can find Williams' entire book on or for free from Amazon.  I found the poem itself on

About the author  - 

Helen Maria Williams was born to a Scottish mother, Helen Hay, and a Welsh army officer father, Charles Williams. Sources variously give her birth as 1761 or 1762.  She  was a British novelist, poet, and translator of French-language works. 

A controversial figure in her own time, the young Williams was favorably portrayed in a 1787 poem by William Wordsworth.

In the context of the Revolution Controversy, she came down on the side of the revolutionaries in her 1790 novel Julia and defied convention by traveling alone to revolutionary France.  She briefly visited England in 1792, but only to persuade her mother and her sisters to join her in France just as the country was moving toward the more violent phases of its revolution.

After the Bourbon Restoration, she became a naturalized French citizen in 1818; nonetheless, in 1819 she moved to Amsterdam to live with a nephew she had helped raise. However, she was unhappy in Amsterdam and soon returned to Paris until her death in 1827.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Ghost of Jerry Bundler  -  1908
William Wymark Jacobs
32 pages
genre  -  play
my rating  -  3 out of 5 stars

This one-act play was first performed in London, 1899 at the St. James Theatre. It was revived in 1902 where it was performed 138 times at two different theaters.

The play is adapted from a short story called 'Jerry Bundler', which was published in a book by Jacobs called Light Freights in 1901.

Six gentlemen are spending the night at a hotel in a small country town. At the beginning of the play, the men have just heard a story about a supposed ghost inhabiting the hotel. One of the travelers loves theatricals, and when a few of the others are out of the room, he wagers that he can scare someone if he dresses up as the ghost.

The stage directions are quite thorough. You know exactly where each actor is to move, sit and stand, and what he is to do. There are two endings to the play, in case "the above tragic termination would be too serious."

About the author  -

William Wymark Jacobs was born in Wapping, London on the 8th of September, 1863. His father was wharf manager at the South Devon wharf at Lower East Smithfield. The Jacobs were a large family and poor. W.W. (as he came to be called by his friends) was shy and quiet with a fair complexion.

Jacobs was educated at a private school in London and later at Birkbeck College.

In 1879, Jacobs began work as a clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank, and by 1885 he had his first short story published. The majority of his output was humorous in tone. By 1899 Jacobs was confident enough to resign from the civil service to devote his full time to writing.

Jacobs is now remembered for his macabre tale 'The Monkey's Paw'.  Numerous movie adaptations have been made of this short story.  In fact, there is one scheduled for release this October, which stars Stephen Lang, Corbin Bleu, and Charles S. Dutton.

In 1900 Jacobs married suffragette Agnes Eleanor Williams, with whom he had two sons and three daughters.  He died on Sept. 1, 1943 in London.