Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book a Week, May 13

I have a lot of books. I've read most of them, but some of them (particularly among those that were inherited) I have not yet read, and some of them I only read quite a long time ago. So one thing I've been thinking of doing is a book-a-week feature here, in which I'll pick out a book on Sunday that either I have not managed to read before, or that I haven't read in quite a while, and then blog something about it. I have difficulty maintaining series here, but the reading this requires is not great -- I already read more than one book a week even in busy weeks, so this is just a matter of picking out a particular book beforehand and blogging something about it afterward. We'll see how it goes.

My first book in the series is a re-read: The Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion in the Year 1764-1765. According to the title-page, it is the diary of one Cleone Knox, as "Edited by her KINSMAN, Alexander Blacker Kerr," and it is often listed in this way, but the title-page is sheer fiction. Neither Knox nor Kerr ever existed. The whole diary is a work of fiction. It was published in 1925 but it had been written a couple of years before by a nineteen-year-old girl, Magdalen King-Hall, who was an aspiring author. Her sister suggested that she write a historical novel in eighteenth-century diary form, so King-Hall spent a short bit of time reading up on the period in the library and within a few weeks came out with The Diary of a Young Lady. It was an instant hit -- in the U.S. alone it went through nine editions in two months. People were taken in by it; there was a brief period where reviewers thought it really was a recently discovered eighteenth-century diary, and when some months after publication it came out that it was fictional, there was a scandal of sorts. King-Hall went on to become quite a widely read historical novelist. Her most famous novel was The Wicked Lady, about Barbara Skelton, which was made into a movie.

As I recall, the book is a fairly light read, but quite charming, so it seems a good start.

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