The Crisis founders in crinolines and clichés

Winston Churchill sets The Crisis amid the crinolines and cavalry officers of nineteenth century St. Louis.

Stephen Bliss and his mother are Bostonian aristocrats who lost their fortunes. They move to St. Louis where Stephen is to study law with the eccentric Judge Whipple, a friend of his father.

Stephen is barely off the boat when on impulse he buys a slave to free and return to her mother. The deed charms the judge, a vehement abolitionist, and infuriates Virginia Carvel, who had hoped to acquire the girl as her servant.

Since Virginia’s father and Judge Whipple are best friends, Colonel Carvel soon meets Stephen., whom he likes.

Another New Englander, Eliphalet Hopper,  is already working in the Carvel’s business where his thrift, shrewdness, and lack of scruples bode ill for his employer.

The tale is the usual romantic nonsense about a Southern belle captivated against her will by a horrible Yankee who turns out not to be horrible.

Churchill brings some historical figures into the story, but his focus is the cliché-ridden love story.  It’s a shame, really.  The book is chock-full of minor characters who deserve to star in novels of their own.

The Crisis
by Winston Churchill
Illus. Howard Chandler Christy
MacMillan, 1901
522 pages
Project Gutenberg e-book #5396
My grade: C
© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni
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