Gordon Keith Piles Up Implausibilities

Thomas Nelson Page’s Gordon Keith is a novel you’ll be glad to have read, but much happier if you never begin reading it.  (The illustrations below from the novel are more entertaining.)

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The title character is the son of a Southern gentleman. Sidelined by his war injuries, General Keith is sent to England to represent the Confederacy. He takes his son along.

In England, Gordon meets one Yankee, Norman Wentworth, who will become his lifelong friend; another, Ferdy Wickersham, who will become his lifelong enemy; and a little girl who will grow up to become the second love of his life.

Page piles up coincidences the way a logger piles up cord wood. He has his rural, Southern hero tramping the hills on engineering surveys one week, leaving his card in New York drawing rooms the next.

Page doesn’t do any better with characterization than he does with plot.

Gordon’s honor code generally takes the form of demanding satisfaction of anyone who disagrees with him. Gordon wins the respect of men by ever so politely knocking out his opponents.

Page is even less successful with his female characters than with the men.

When Gordon promises his young bride they will share their home with his aged father and equally elderly town doctor, according to Page, she’s thrilled.

If that strikes you as plausible, you’ll probably like Gordon Keith.

Gordon Keith
By Thomas Nelson Page
lllustrated by George Wright
Published 1903
1903 bestseller #2
Project Gutenberg eBook #14068

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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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.

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