It’s that list-making time of year. The ‘best of’ lists…’ As a particularly dedicated list-maker, I wanted to share Iyntwood’s favorite reads for 1912.
There were many popular American writers published in England this year and some of our friends’ choices are quite surprising.
Mr. Hollyoak (Iyntwood’s butler) is thoroughly enjoying Zane Gray’s ‘Rider of the Purple Sage,’ left behind by a young American guest. Hollyoak finds the plot line both informative and stimulating; a huge departure from his customary Charles Dickens and of course the 1885 – 1900 Cooperage Catalogue. He says ‘Riders’ explains a good deal about the ‘new’ American culture and hastily adds that it is read in the spirit of a ‘guide.’
Harry Napier and his sister Althea have been sharing, among many reads, Edgar Rice Burrough’s ‘Tarzan of the Apes,’ and are already addicted and hoping for more books in the series. Harry particularly enjoys the idea that an earl’s son could live in the jungle and be raised quite successfully by apes, and Althea wishes there were more men like John Clayton inhabiting the drawing rooms of England.
Lady Montfort has been enjoying ‘The Reef,’ as she is a particular fan of Edith Wharton and has read all her books. She also bought a copy of Beatrix Potter’s new book: ‘The Tale of Mr. Todd’ for her grandchildren, which though enjoyable is not a patch on ‘The Tale of Tom Kitten,’ which involves Tom in a pretty hair-raising adventure where he is rolled up into a suet pudding by desperately hungry rats and nearly boiled to death. This tale was a hands-down favorite in the Lamballe nursery when she last visited her daughter, Verity, in Paris earlier this spring
Closer to home Lord Montfort is bitterly disappointed that Conan Doyle has ditched his favorite character Sherlock Holmes in favor of a new protagonist: Professor George Edward Challenger in his latest book ‘The Lost World,’ which seems to be about dinosaurs. Try as he might Lord Montfort can’t relate to Challenger and wonders if C.D. might be washed up as a writer. He has little time these days for new literature, as he is more of an out-of-doors type, but he is thoroughly enjoying a re-read of his favorite Sherlock Homes story: ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Mrs.Thwaite (Iyntwood’s cook) thoroughly recommends the downstairs pass-around of the year: ‘Greatheart,’ by romantic novelist Ethel Dell; sadly now out of print. She says there is nothing like ‘lurve’ to make the world go round and has enjoyed many a teary-eyed moment between organizing her menus for the annual summer ball and trying to accustom herself to Iyntwood’s third housemaid, who in her opinion is far too young, pretty and flighty.
Mrs. Jackson, unimpressed with modern novels on the whole, though she often dips into a bit of Conan Doyle for pointers, is re-reading for the third time: ‘Middlemarch,’ which reinforces her opinion that marriage is not all that it is cracked up to be. I did not ask her if this precludes a loving friendship.