Progress was temporarily slowed by E. H. Dering, an unforgivably execrable prose stylist who insisted on writing at great length. I hope that I managed to contain any wild gesticulations of impotent rage.
- Christopher Schmid, The Chapel of the Forest and the Robin Redbreast (Thomas Richardson, n.d.). One of a series of Catholic story-length tracts, here a translation of a popular German author. (I only worked with the first narrative, as the binding inadvertently made things very hard to read.) Conrad Ehrlieb finds his own prayer book in a chapel, which providentially leads him to the sister from whom he was separated during wartime. They prosper, become very happy, and eventually do up the chapel quite nicely. BODY COUNT: Zero.
- Chastity; Or, the Sister of Charity (C. Dolman, 1848). Another little Catholic tale. Madeleine, perfectly pure, yearns above all to be a nun, which is Good; her godless sister Pauline, by contrast, yearns to make a wealthy marriage, which is Bad. Both girls get their wish, with the result that Madeleine winds up comforting an anguished Pauline on her deathbed (of course). BODY COUNT: Two.
- Skelton Yorke, Hilda; Or, the Old Seat of Council (Thomas Richardson, 1868). Catholic novel, mostly set in Scotland. Our title character, Hilda, is gorgeous and headstrong. Therefore, she has the options of becoming a nun or dying, and chooses the first one. Along the way, she must contend with the attentions of the eeevil Lord Edgecourt, a Rake who keeps trying to deprive Hilda of her virtue. Meanwhile, there are various plots involving her Protestant uncle, the Laird of Bannatyne, and her Catholic aunt, all of which end with deaths, conversions, the collapse of the family fortune, and her cousin Claire entering a convent. Set at the time of the Disruption. Features rampaging pet cats. BODY COUNT: Three.
- E. H. Dering, The Lady of Raven's Combe, 2 vols. (Art and Book Company, 1891). Catholic novel. Dering was probably Newman's most enthusiastic imitator; alas, Dering's prose sits so heavily on the page that one can practically feel the dents. Perhaps not quite the worst novel I've read so far, but close. In any event, this is a boring sensation novel involving faked wills, murder, a baby switch, perfidious Italian servants, and free-thinkers, heavily interlarded with discussions of free will, the nature of God, and so forth. It all wraps up with conversions, marriage, and a convenient death. BODY COUNT: Two.
- Marianne Farmingham, What of the Night? A Temperance Tale of the Times (James Clarke, 1876). Edwin Knelson, a Primitive Methodist clergyman, doesn't see why an occasional drop should do him any harm. As he's in a temperance novel, however, he becomes an alcoholic, gets drunk at his first funeral service, and eventually has to resign his position; however, thanks to his long-suffering wife and the birth of his child, he reforms and lives abstinently ever after. BODY COUNT: One.
- Jennie M. Drinkwater, Goldenrod Farm (Baptist Book and Tract Society, 1897). UK reprint of an American novel. Our heroine, Elizabeth, is an heiress who graduates from being a selfish little girl to a devout Christian. Her true spiritual development is sparked by the loss of her fiance, Mark Benson, who appears to suffer from severe depression. For most of the rest of the novel, she hangs out with Sister Deborah in Faith Cottage, a Christian retreat, and engages in extremely long disquisitions on the Bible, God's will, suffering, sin, and so forth. Eventually, she figures out how to spend her fortune in order to do good, marries Deborah's nephew, and lives happily ever after. BODY COUNT: One.