Read The Shadow of Ashlydyat - The Original Classic Edition by Mrs. Henry Wood Free Online
Book Title: The Shadow of Ashlydyat - The Original Classic Edition|
The author of the book: Mrs. Henry Wood
Edition: Emereo Publishing
The size of the: 683 KB
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Loaded: 1150 times
Reader ratings: 6.9
Date of issue: March 8th 2013
ISBN 13: 9781486483419
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books:
Women of a Different Stamp
The Shadow of Ashlydyat, which was published in The New Monthly Magazine between October 1861 and November 1863, was ranked amongst her favourite works by the author Ellen Wood, and I find that it has as much to recommend itself to the modern reader as to alienate him.
The story centres on the Godolphin family, who run a bank in a small town. After the death of Sir Thomas Godolphin, his two sons Thomas and George take over the business. Whereas Thomas, the elder, is a serious, pious and honest gentleman through and through, whose private life was blighted through the premature death of his fiancée, George, also known as “ready George”, is a free and easy dapper man about town, whose irresponsible gambling debts lead him into defalcation and the manipulation of the bank’s books. When it finally becomes known that George has misappropriated some bonds, this scandal starts a run on the bank, eventually resulting in the Godolphin’s bankruptcy and the ruin of many small depositors. The public disgrace falling on the Godolphin’s does not affect George very much – in fact, he absconds to London to leave matters to be fixed up by Thomas as best as can be –, but it precipitates the death of his elder brother and also leads to the demise of George’s wife Mary, who dies from “a broken heart”. Mary’s death, however, is only partly effected by the ruin of the bank and the cares that go with with; another reason is her feeling of always standing in the shadow of Charlotte Pain, a woman her husband spends a lot of time with.
In fact, The Shadow of Ashlydyat is an example of an infelicitous title because the novel does not really centre on the mysterious spectre, known as The Shadow of Ashlydyat, which is said to appear whenever there is trouble afoot for the Godolphin family, but it is more concerned with the rivalry between Mary and Charlotte, and this is also where the novel may alienate a modern reader. Wood contrasts Charlotte and Mary in the very first chapter by depicting the former as demure, serious and submissive, not altogether fit to face the vicissitudes of life, whereas the latter appears as self-assertive, even callous and, with her interest in hunting, driving horses and keeping dogs, as unwomanly. It is quite clear where Mrs. Wood’s sympathies lay, but I, for one, rooted for Charlotte Pain, not only because she has such a wonderful name, but also because she seems the more interesting woman to me. George spends a lot of time with her, but near the end of the book he tells his wife that Charlotte Pain is not the kind of woman a man would marry, which labelled him as quite a hide-bound bigot for me. The reader will always enjoy the passages in which mischievous Charlotte makes her appearance in the novel, whereas the long and pathetic death of Mary might eventually bore and annoy him. It’s also strange to see Mary parade her sufferings and her readiness to embrace death like a good Christian in front of her little daughter instead of pulling herself together for once and of sending her husband where he belongs.
All in all, the book is well-written, its characters are credible and not easy to put into categories of good or evil, but the last third of the novel was quite a strenuous morality play to endure.
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Read information about the authorEllen Price Wood was an English novelist, better known as "Mrs Henry Wood". She wrote over 30 novels, many of which (especially East Lynne), enjoyed remarkable popularity. Among the best known of her stories are Danesbury House, Oswald Cray, Mrs. Halliburton's Troubles, The Channings, Lord Oakburn's Daughters and The Shadow of Ashlydyat. For many years, she worked as the proprietor and editor of the Argosy.
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