One book in particular, by Emily Eden. I mentioned before that ABE Books finally found me a copy of Miss Eden's Letters, edited by a great-niece and published in 1919. I had downloaded an e-version some time ago and read about two-thirds of it. I stopped at the point in 1835 where Miss Eden was preparing to go to India with her brother, Lord Auckland, the newly-appointed Governor-General. I've read her book Up the Country, a collection of letters written from India between 1837 and 1840. I have since learned that two additional books of her letters from India were published soon after her death. I've re-read Miss Eden's Letters up to 1835, but because I like my stories in chronological order, I've set them aside to read the Letters from India. Volume I (a modern reprint) arrived last week. As soon as I finish the book I'm currently reading (from the TBR shelves), I think I will be back with Miss Eden.
I really enjoy her letters, which remind me of Jane Austen's. Like Austen, she was part of a large, clever, close and funny family. Unlike Austen's, though, they were nobility, an old Whig political family. Emily's father, the first Lord Auckland, was a diplomat who served as Ambassador to France, Spain and Holland. She moved in the highest social and political circles. She and her unmarried sister Fanny acted as hostesses for their bachelor brother, with whom they lived. Like Austen, she came to value her "life of single blessedness," particularly as her sisters and women friends produced child after child. "Six small Intellects constantly on the march, and [sister] Mary, of course, is hatching a seventh child," she wrote in 1827 (another sister gave birth to seventeen).
I'll write more about this book later, when I've finished it, but I have to share this Austen-esque paragraph from an 1815 letter to her brother George, Lord Auckland:
There is to be a meeting of all the Sunday Schools in the district next week at Bromley, and a collection, and a collation. We mean to eat up the collation, and give all our old clipped sixpences to the collection, which we think is a plan you would approve if you were here.And this one, to her oldest sister Lady Buckinghamshire in 1817, could have come straight out of Jane Austen's juvenalia:
My dearest Sister, the reason I am in such a state of ignorance about the letter is, that Mama and Louisa went to meet them on their way to London; that we were behind them in the poney-cart; and George behind us in the grig. We all fell in with each other and the letters in the middle of Penge Common, where we each took what belonged to us. I met immediately with the dreadful intelligence that you were going actually to take May Place, and on our recommendation, which dreadful intelligence I communicated to George, who immediately fainted away, and was driven off by his servant. I fainted away, and was driven off by Mary, and Mama and Louisa went on in hysterics to London.The later letters are less light-hearted, but always interesting. I am looking forward to reading in Letters from India about the long voyage out, and her first impressions of the country.
I've done pretty well with the Dare as it is. I've cleared off 53 books, and half of two more. I've added another 35 to the shelves though, which only gives me a net gain of 18 (plus two pending). In addition to Miss Eden's letters, I'm looking forward to reading more Willa Cather, Patricia Wentworth, Margery Sharp, and N.K. Jemisin. I am also anxious to get to Shilpi Somaya Gowda's new book, The Golden Son.