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Hearts and Coronets: A Story for Young People

de Alice Wilson Fox

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Published in 1910, long out-of-print and virtually unknown to contemporary readers, Alice Wilson Fox's Hearts and Coronets, a charming and well-written novel for young readers, reminded me by turns of Louisa May Alcott's The Inheritance|, Frances Hodgson Burnett's Little Lord Fauntleroy, and Charlotte M. Yonge's Countess Kate.

It follows the story of Audrey Denver, a young middle-class English girl who finds herself befriended by the noble Dorincourt family after being involved in a train accident with Dick and Alison Dorincourt. Her growing friendship with the entire family, from gracious Lord and Lady Heversham to adorable "lamb-like" Roger and the "Rabbits," from friendly Alison and Dick to beautiful Marjorie and whimsical Gerard, seems blessed by an astonishing and unexpected similarity in taste and temperament. Audrey's discovery that this similarity is not coincidental, but the result of a family connection, and the manner in which she responds to this knowledge, form the crux of this sentimental novel.

The narrative developments in Fox's novel - Audrey's brave actions in saving young Roger, Gerard's "unsuitable" attachment to her, and the revelation regarding the true heir to the earldom, are none too original. But the story is well-told, and Audrey makes for a sympathetic heroine. There are some rather dated ideas about social class, as when Audrey reflects upon the vulgarity of her middle class relatives, but these passages are infrequent enough not to destroy the appeal of an otherwise engaging read.

Well worth the time of any reader who likes sentimental girls' fiction, ala Alcott or Burnett, although where the reader will obtain a copy of this extremely rare title, I could not say. And no, this has no relation to the subsequent, and better-known film, Kind Hearts and Coronets. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jun 26, 2013 |
Well from now on whenever I read some detective story in which the second housemaid is much addicted to reading sentimental novels, I will have a touchstone to imagine. This is a thoroughly sentimental novel and a real period piece. It was fun, the characters are lively and well drawn and their interactions entertaining to read about. It is very thoroughly of its time including some fairly silly assumptions about class and blood which are almost more bothersome for being so entirely unconscious. But read as a period piece its fun in itself and informative in demonstrating what the unexamined assumptions of popular culture were almost exactly 100 years ago. Well worth reading for anyone who likes to time travel in their head. ( )
  bunwat | Mar 30, 2013 |
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