Irving Bacheller had two novels among the top 10 bestsellers for 1901. Like Eben Holden, which was published in 1900, Bacheller’s 1901 novel D’ri and I draws on his knowledge of New York’s North County.
Ramon Bell’s father, who fought in the war for independence from Britain, teaches his son swordsmanship and national pride. When the second war against the British errupts in 1812, Ray and the Bell’s hired hand, Darius “D’ri” Olin, eagerly sign up. Before long, General Brown is trusting his most difficult assignments to the pair.
Ray and D’ri have more adventures during the short war than most people have in a lifetime. The action stops only long enough for Ray to fall in love with two French girls whose father has sent them to America to keep them from meeting undesirable young men in Paris.
Using Ray as narrator means Bacheller’s plot contains lumps of history, romance, and adventure with very little in the way of character development to bind them together. D’ri and Ray are no more lifelike than paper dolls. Bacheller’s attempts to render D’ri’s dialect in print makes him seem particularly remote.
Bits of D’ri and I are vividly written and quite exciting. On the whole, however, the book is ho-hum reading for the 21st century novel lover.Project Gutenberg ebook #12440