I was wandering through Librivox, and in looking for something comforting found some recordings of E. Nesbit novels by a narrator new to me, Helen Taylor. You never know what you’re going to get with volunteer readers, but Helen Taylor should be doing this for a living – she was utterly marvelous, and I had a wonderful time with Squirrel and Panther et al. Since she had done such a magnificent job with old favorites, I then looked to see what else Ms. Taylor had read, found this – a book I’d never heard of by an author I’d never heard of – and thought why not?
The plot is purest soap opera, 1908 style: amnesia, lost loves, misunderstanding and lack of communication, secret shames and unknown children. I thought it would be amusing, if nothing else, and well worth a try for the narration. And it was as much fun as a soap opera can be at its best – which, truth be told, is quite a bit. The characters are marvelous – even when there are clear cases of “Oh for heaven’s sake just talk to each other won’t you” they’re fun to hang around with. The plot took turns I found completely unexpected for the time period, without ever explicitly stating that’s where it was going – it was twisty and tangled and overall frothy fun with a surprisingly strong heart at its center.