Tag Archives: Victorian Lit

Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little Lord FauntleroyLittle Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since I am also doing extensive research on LLF for my Victorian Literature for Children class, my review may be more biased than usual.

I love this book. I love its cultural significance and its pacing, romantic notions of aristocracy, contrast with British and American life, and the simplicity of the conflicts. The story is adequately summed up and not concluded in the final page or paragraph (see MacDonald’s Princess and Curdie for my full disgust at this phenomenon.)

Cedric is the perfect miniature adult as child, feminized, delightful and intelligence. So wholly unrealistic that you can’t help but love him. The story itself is just delightful, but when you pull back and look at its greater implications and cultural impacts, it becomes a lot more interesting. I promise to post (in my blog) the full bibliography that will be generated from this project so that those interested, all three of my subscribers, may wish to see an overview of the impact of this seemingly gentle, innocuous text.

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The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald

The Princess and Curdie (Puffin Classics)The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Definitely not the same caliber as the first. This follows Curdie’s adventures in proving he is royal and worthy of marrying Princess Irene through the help of the Grandmother. The delightful fairy tale feeling does not carry through to this novel that feels more like a companion piece than a sequel. Curdie’s quest seems aimless and his actions are guided by a very didactic hand that felt like a step back from the progressiveness of his first title.

The ending is…something.

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Princess and the Goblin

The Princess and the Goblin The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I truly adored MacDonald’s first of the two Princess books. It was engaging, magical, adventurous and contained only minimal direct didactism (as compared to other books of this era. Princess Irene has agency, and the contrast with the goblins makes for great discourse.

Princess Irene discovers that her Great-Great-Great-Grandmother lives in a tower in her house and this grandmother appears both young and vibrant, as well as old. She provides Irene with agency to save her friend Curdie from the goblins and consequently the whole kingdom.

This fairy tale is delightful.

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Waterbabies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby by Charles Kingsley

WaterbabiesWaterbabies by Charles Kingsley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful Victorian fairy tale about de-evolution and learning strength, morality and character. Sometimes the narrator is a bit heavy-handed, but overall, it is an enjoyable romp through the waters with Tom as he learns the right way to play, treat others, and the consequences of being bad.

Rather fun, and filled with tons of Victorian pop culture and budding ideologies.

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Countess Kate by Charlotte Mary Yonge

Countess KateCountess Kate by Charlotte Mary Yonge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While clearly this is an instruction book for proper young ladies ways to God and good behavior, it is also a pretty good story. I actually enjoyed the plot and I enjoyed Kate as a character. The book did not feel particularly preach-y until the end. I would definitely have some things to say about the author’s treatment and interpretations of childhood and women, but I think that as it is a product of its time, that discussions should prove to be rather engaging.

Not at all a bad read if you come across a copy, though it is out of print/POD.

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Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

The Children of the New ForestThe Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As my first real foray into Victorian Children’s Literature, I was pleasantly surprised to find this novel quite enjoyable despite its didacticism. Granted, the instructions on how to catch wild cattle, and put potato skins on burns will be helpful if ever the apocalypse happens.

I did find the plot quite engaging, though the characters were quite difficult to differentiate until about half way through.

And the ending…the last 10 pages covers about 7 years, throwing in details to wrap up the story and play match-maker. While it was engaging, it is also clearly a product of its time (considering the treatment of women and Pablo, the heathen gypsy).

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Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tenniel’s illustrations really shed light on Carroll’s work, especially in combination with “Pleasures Taken: performances of sexuality and loss in Victorian photographs”. Carroll’s demand on Tenniel’s pen and ink work and his demand for perfection, reflects his artistic obsession with the girl body. This reread has brought the nonsense of this novel to my awareness. While the cult status of this novel seems deserved because of its precedent in the genre. It has given modern fiction a basis for expansion, because on its own it is episodic and somewhat didactic.

I find that movie adaptations tend to play up the Queen’s role and downplay the Victorian nonsense, which is crucial to the actual success of the novel. Alice’s wordplay, her half-learned knowledge and the use of puns throughout are part of the reason for its cult following.

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