Lord Vanity‘s weak characters done in by history

French surrender at Montreal
French surrender at Montreal

Lord Vanity is a sweeping historical romance spanning two continents in the age of enlightenment.  For some readers, the period details, such as  the marvelous description of the battle for Montreal, may compensate for the novel’s flaws. Unfortunately, for most readers, the lead characters are not strong enough to stand out against the background of Samuel Shellabarger’s scholarship.

A handsome bastard, Richard Morandi, is toggling together a living in Venice as an actor-musician. He falls for a charming ballerina. Maritza’s pedigree is as socially unacceptable as Richard’s.

Richard falls under the influence of one rogue after another until the details of his background become public knowledge. Then he goes off to Montreal to serve under Wolfe.

Thanks to Richard, the British beat the French in North America. His past obscured by the victory, Richard becomes a spy for the British in Paris. There he meets Maritza again.

Lord Vanity is a romance, so a happy ending is contrived for the couple.

Richard’s lack of perception and his absurd pretension of morality render him joke even as the juvenile lead in this farcical plot. Maritza is almost equally implausible with her emotional acuity and moral purity.

History buffs won’t care; they’ll love this novel for its details.

Lord Vanity
by Samuel Shellabarger
Little, Brown, 1953
473 pages
1953 bestseller #9
My grade B-
 

Credit: The original image above is one of many on the website  www.uppercanadahistory.ca, which is a wonderful resource of well-written and well-illustrated information about Canadian history.

 © 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni
Advertisements

Published by

Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.