Last week! (Actually, last three days or so.)
- Lillie Montfort, Broken Purposes: Or, the Good Time Coming (Wesleyan-Methodist Sunday School Union, n.d.). In case you hadn't guessed, this is a Wesleyan Methodist novel, set in the 1830s. Young Alfred Erle, while not brilliant, is devout; his brother Cuthbert (were the Victorians really naming their sons Cuthbert right and left?) is brilliant, but not converted. Needless to say, Cuthbert falls under the influence, alcoholic and otherwise, of his eeevil Uncle Harold--a drunkard! a gambler! a thief!--and goes to the bad, until he finally sees the light. BODY COUNT: Three.
- Hugh Phee, Duty and Destiny. A Tale of Australia (Baptist Book and Tract Society, n.d.). As the publisher indicates, a Baptist novel. Molly Walker and Harry Monteith are in love; they're also Ritualists, which cannot be a good thing in a Baptist novel. Wealthy Daddy Monteith disapproves, but in the meantime, the orphaned Molly goes off to live with her aunt in Australia. Her aunt is, needless to say, Baptist, and Molly soon has the usual run of discoveries about how empty Anglo-Catholicism is. When a disinherited Harry puts in an appearance, he is horrified to discover that his Ritualist beloved is now a Baptist, and so does the logical thing and strikes out for the gold fields. Fortunately, he not only converts, but also fractures his leg, which means that he lands in the hospital where Molly works as a nurse. They live happily ever after, and Daddy relents. BODY COUNT: Zero.
- H. E. Stone, Twisted Threads; Or, Those Villagers (Baptist Book and Tract Society, n.d.). Baptist utopian novel. The alliteratively-named Ebenezer Eldred and William Williams go off to be clergy at a poor village church (Baptist) and wealthy urban temple (Congregationalist), respectively. With the help of a wealthy female parishioner, Ebenezer develops a new Christian theory of land distribution, which he puts into practice locally; by contrast, William is too intellectual and leads his parishioners astray. Ebenezer must also contend with his love for the daughter of the local Anglican clergyman, who doesn't want his little girl marrying a Dissenter. In the end, we have the usual run of conversions and marriages, along with attempted arson. There's a temperance subtheme. BODY COUNT: Two.
- Alfred E. Knight, Tobiah Jalf: Lay-Preacher and Methodist (Bible Christian Book-Room, 1892). More Methodists. Set in 1792. The saintly Tobiah falls in love with beautiful Mary Doon. Alas, he's in his thirties and only has five teeth. Meanwhile, Mary is passionately in love with Farmer Blake, a hunky young dude with a drinking habit. What to do? Mary converts and, eventually, so does the hunky farmer; Tobiah dies, which takes care of his romantic problem, but he does at least get to confess his love before expiring. BODY COUNT: One.
- Frances Upcher Cousens, Joyful Sunday Stories; Or, Tales Explanatory of "The Lord's Prayer" (Dean & Co., n.d.). As always, this is "joyful" in the Victorian sense of "look at all those angelic children going to heaven," not "joyful" in the sense of "everyone lives happily ever after." Aunt Marie is disturbed by how her little nieces and nephews rattle over the Lord's Prayer, so she writes stories to explicate each line. BODY COUNT: Four.
- "Tarika," Hubert Sherbrooke, Priest (Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1901). And lo, it was utterly bizarre. A new woman-cum-sensation-cum-religious novel. The impossibly beautiful and brilliant Marguerite Roland, a "new woman" and novelist, is loved by four men: Hubert Sherbrooke, an Anglo-Catholic priest vowed to celibacy; Daniel Compton, the local squire, comical; Dayrell Lindrea, an artist and dastardly villain, complete with mustache; and Bevan Hartley, another artist, very hunky. She falls for Dayrell, which is not a good idea, but eventually winds up married to Bevan; meanwhile, Hubert is driven mad with lust, poor man. Features philosophical disquisitions on female equality, Ritualism, suicide, bigamy, adultery, a sideways mention of birth control, sexual assault, and murder--all those things you expect in a religious novel. BODY COUNT: Three.