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I have now officially dropped my jaw

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bevgray
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
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I have now officially dropped my jaw

Postby bevgray » Wed February 22nd, 2012, 12:53 pm

At the turn of the last century, there were several books that were considered romances (not historical since they were contemporary to the late 19th and early 20th centuries). PRISONER OF ZENDA and SCARLET PIMPERNEL were two of them.

The biggie though was GRAUSTARK by George Barr McCutcheon. Like Richard Harding Davis in his novels of that same period, McCutcheon captured the essence of the American Hero. Attractive, robust, outdoorsey with the American can-do spirit that was prevalent in the Teddy Roosevelt-Great White Fleet era. Quite different from the polished English or Continental protagonists of the European writers. I'm sure many are familiar with the romantic concept of the commoner falling in love with a princess (usually in some unknown kingdom in the Balkans). Opera, operetta, literature, plays, and films are filled with this concept. Novelists of the mid-20th Century referred back to GRAUSTARK as a style or plot device. For example, in Elswyth Thane's fourth Williamsburg novel, THE LIGHT HEART, she mentions a Graustarkian ploy executed by one of the characters (and no, I won't give more detail since some of you are reading the series and I don't want to spoil anything).

During one of my ambles through the Kindle Store, I was stunned to discover that the four books that comprise the GRAUSTARK series are available for the Kindle. For those who love historical romance, I recommend that you read at least the first two books in the series. I advise caution with the third and fourth books, however, as McCutcheon's style changes radically and the later books are far more cynical and lack a good deal of the charm of the preceeding pair. These were written in the 1920s and he may just have been reflecting the climate of the times in a Post-World War I era.

The more I see of the Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook, the more delighted I am with the concept. To have so many wonderful old books, long out of print that captured the flavor of their times, is a true gift for those who love older books. As an aside, it looks like several of Richard Harding Davis' novels are also available. Davis was a journalist (famous at the time of the Spanish-American War) and was considered to be the male counterpart of Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girl".
Beverly C. Gray
Army Brat and Lover of Historical Fiction
Guests are always welcome at my Web Site

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Misfit
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Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Wed February 22nd, 2012, 3:22 pm

I love these older books becoming available on Kindle. FYI, Jenny Quinlan (a blogger as well as a friend at Goodreads), has a new enterprise going finding these old books and getting them dusted off and giving them a new life. You can see the first four here, and the prices are very reasonable. Granted, these can probably be found free on Kindle, but Jenny's putting in notes on the author, as well as a glossary. There might be more in the books, but I've only taken a peek so far. More info on this site about the Legacy Vintage Collection.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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LoveHistory
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Postby LoveHistory » Wed February 22nd, 2012, 6:43 pm

That's so AWESOME!

SGM
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Postby SGM » Wed February 22nd, 2012, 7:57 pm

"bevgray" wrote:At the turn of the last century, there were several books that were considered romances (not historical since they were contemporary to the late 19th and early 20th centuries). PRISONER OF ZENDA and SCARLET PIMPERNEL were two of them.

The biggie though was GRAUSTARK by George Barr McCutcheon. Like Richard Harding Davis in his novels of that same period, McCutcheon captured the essence of the American Hero.


Thanks for that. I have downloaded the freebies. Can you give me some idea of the order they should be read in?

I was brought up on the Prisoner of Zenda and the Scarlet Pimpernel and swiped them from my sister's bookcase as soon as the Enid Blyton books were no longer quite enough for me as a kid. (I am not sure if EB really travelled outside the UK but they were a must here from about the age of 7 to 10 for my generation and several before, but by the end, they had to be supplemented by something meatier).

The Ronald Coleman PoZ was one of my Dad's favourite films.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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bevgray
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
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Postby bevgray » Thu February 23rd, 2012, 12:17 pm

GRAUSTARK is the first one. BEVERLY OF GRAUSTARK (a character for whom I was named, if I can believe my Mommy) is the second. The third is TRUXTON KING. This is the one where McCutcheon changes his style so dramatically so don't let that throw you. PRINCE OF GRAUSTARK is the fourth.

He also wrote many other novels, some contemporary for their time, some along the lines of Graustark. CASTLE CRANEYCROW is a lot of fun, as I recall.

My favorite adaption of Zenda was also the Ronald Coleman version. I always liked him and I adore Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. who made such a splendid villain.
Last edited by bevgray on Thu February 23rd, 2012, 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Beverly C. Gray

Army Brat and Lover of Historical Fiction

Guests are always welcome at my Web Site

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Location: Franklin, TN
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Postby Alisha Marie Klapheke » Tue February 28th, 2012, 1:46 pm

Thanks for the post! I'm going to download GRAUSTARK now.


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