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victorian review • Volume 33 Number 1 146 imagine using it in courses on mainstream popular fiction (with the help of Annette Federico’s Idol of Suburbia: Marie Corelli and Late-Victorian Literary Culture), on art and artists, or on fin de siècle culture. Kirsten MacLeod’s introduction and the ancillary materials situate the novel within debates about realism, naturalism , aestheticism, decadence, and degeneration. Compared to the volumes above, however, Wormwood is over-footnoted. Perhaps this just shows how much French Ouida expected her readers to comprehend, but it seems to me that even our undergraduates can grasp expressions such as bon jour, mon Dieu! and au revoir without annotation.The translations of complete poems are, on the other hand, very welcome, and MacLeod has fruitfully used an 1889 Baedecker to suggest the reputation among Britons of certain French places. Unlike the now-familiar Broadview Literary Texts, The Girl Behind the Keys is an “Encore Edition” (brief introduction, minimum annotation, no contemporary reviews or other contextual excerpts) of a short and decidedly light novel from 1903 by a writer who—despite bringing out something like fiftyfive titles between 1897 and 1918—has been heard of by (I am quite sure) far fewer people than even Marie Corelli.With only 156 pages of well-leaded text and a resourceful if impossibly naive typist as hero and narrator,Tom Gallon’s book is an exemplary piece of fast-paced popular writing for the not-too-literate reader. (I plan to pass my copy on to a twelve-year-old friend.) Typists were not only archetypal New Women in the 1890s, they were also, because of their duties, frequent among the amateur sleuths of early detective fiction. This one comes in neatly packaged chapters (I wonder if they were published separately in some magazine?) that feature thievery, political kidnapping, smuggling , murder, a woman disguised as a boy, a fake seance, a spooky house, an Egyptian mummy, black magic, and—of course—romance. There are also some interesting social details, the sort of things that pop up unintentionally when a writer is working fast and using the first thing that comes to mind to fill out a scene or explain an interruption.The book would be fine for courses in detective fiction or popular fiction, or for an end-of-term treat in almost any class. Just don’t let them buy it early, or they’ll gobble it down when they should be writing their term papers. Sa lly Mitchell Temple University • Behind HerTimes:Transition England in the Novels of Mary Arnold Ward by Judith Wilt; pp. 242. Charlottesville and London: University ofVirginia Press, 2005. $39.50 cloth. It’s a shame that most people’s response to the title of this book is likely to be “Mrs. Humphry Who?” as this study of her work is both interesting 147 Reviews and illuminating. Mrs. HumphryWard wrote twenty-six novels, of which Robert Elsmere was the runaway bestseller of 1888; and the popularity of 1894’s Marcella, through a swiftly issued cheap edition, broke the stranglehold of the lending libraries and thereby brought an end to the three-volume novel format in the United Kingdom. At her (earlier) best she was compared to George Eliot; at her (later) worst she is still readable. Born Mary Augusta Arnold in 1851, she survived into 1920 and was niece to MatthewArnold and aunt toAldous Huxley. These relationships in themselves indicate the changes spanned by her life and career: from the traditional, well-definedVictorian world through vast social and technological changes, including the horrors of the FirstWorldWar, into the uncharted territory of Modernism. Her guiding question throughout, as JudithWilt’s title indicates, could be said to be that of her hero Robert Elsmere: “What should be the individual’s part in this transition England?”(5). Mary Ward saw her part as a continuation of the Arnold family’s traditional involvement in education and attempted through her novels not only to answer her question but to influence her readers to share her beliefs and conclusions. To this end, she made herself a living example, an embodiment of her own beliefs, by including in them much personal material: beliefs, developments...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 146-148
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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