Thursday, April 3, 2014

Zoe  -  1890
Evelyn Whitaker
184 pages?
genre  -  General Fiction, short story
my rating  -  3 out of 5 stars

"Hath this child been already baptized, or no?"

"No, she ain't, leastwise we don't know as how she've been or no, so we thought as we'd best have her done."

At the beginning of the story, Mr. and Mrs. Gray and their teenaged son have brought a baby to a nearby church to be christened. But it's not their own child; Mr. Gray found the little girl at their cottage gate.

Amazon says their ebook has 184 pages.  It was much shorter than that.  There is a paperback version available on Amazon.  It's product page says the book has 52 pages.  That sounds more like it.

There are eight chapters. There is a transcriber's note before the contents page. It reads: "The source book had varying page headers. They have been collected at the start of each chapter as an introductory paragraph..." These page readers remind me of what you read in the Bible at the beginning of each chapter. For example, here is the heading for Chapter 1 "The Christening - An Outlandish Name - The Organist's Mistake - Farmwork - Tom and Bill - The Baby - Baby and All".

The story kept my interest, although there was not a lot of conversation for easy reading.

About the Author  -

Evelyn Whitaker was born in 1844, the seventh child of Edward Whitaker and his wife Emily Ann Woolbert. Whitaker attended the Ladies College in Bedford Square, which later developed into Bedford College, part of the University of London.

All Whitaker's works were published anonymously from 1879-1915 and her identity was not revealed until 1903.  Many of these editions were beautifully bound and illustrated. Whitaker's writing style was praised as "a study in English for its conciseness, simplicity, and elegance" and Tip Cat was adopted as a textbook for German students studying English.Whitaker's stories were described as "charming, pure, and wholesome," full of "humor and pathos."

For more than a decade after Evelyn Whitaker's death, her two most popular titles, Miss Toosey's Mission and Laddie, continued to be reissued as gift books.

Whitaker died in Hammersmith, London at the age of 84.  She never married.

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