The Lady of the Decoration finds healing in work

Postcard of street scene in Yokohama, Japan about 1900 shows cluttered sidewalks, rickshaws, telephone poles.
After her husband’s death in 1900, a Southern belle agrees to teach kindergarten in a mission school in Hiroshima.

She needs the money. She also needs to regain her equilibrium after a bad, seven-year marriage.


The Lady of the Decoration by Frances Little¹
1907 bestseller #1. Project Gutenberg ebook #7523. My grade: B.

The kindergartners salute her, thinking the enameled watch pinned to her bodice is a medal from the Emperor. They call her The Lady of the Decoration.

She, in turn, is fascinated by Japan’s scenery and people, especially the children. She longs to “take the whole lot of them to my heart and love them into an education.”

The Lady records her experiences in letters to her cousin back in Kentucky.

A vivacious blonde, the Lady causes a stir among the Japanese adults as well as the children.

When the Russo-Japanese War breaks out, she’s vocally pro-Japan, helping care for wounded soldiers.

Thanks to the Lady’s buoyant humor, despite the poverty and suffering she sees and the homesickness and unhappiness she often feels, the novel makes cheerful bedtime reading

Readers never learn the letter writer’s name, but they learn to know her. She sums up the years 1901–1905 in a letter:

I don’t care a rap for the struggle and the heart aches, if I have only made good. When I came out there were two kindergartens, now there are nine besides a big training class. Anybody else could have done as much for the work but one thing is certain, the work couldn’t have done for anyone else what it has done for me.


¹Frances Little is the pseudonym of American author Fannie Caldwell Macaulay. The Lady of the Decoration was her first, and most successful novel.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Preview of bestselling novel reviews coming in 2017

Happy 2017, novel readers.

If all goes as planned, in 2017 I’ll reach my goal of reading and reviewing each of the bestselling novels published between 1900 and 1969. Most of the novels I’ll review this year are bestsellers celebrating their publication on a year ending in a “7” between those dates.

2 girls giggle on a bed while woman seated beside them aims a pillow at a man
Illustration from The Younger Set

This year I’ll post reviews in chronological order, beginning with the bestsellers of 1907, 1917, and 1927.

Then I’ll skip ahead to 1967. (I previously reviewed the bestsellers of ’37, ’47 and ’57.)

I end my project by reviewing the bestselling novels of 1968 and 1969.

Review dates for 1907 bestselling novels

Man embraces woman in wedding dress
Satan Sanderson illustration

 Here is my list of the 1907 bestsellers. Dates in square brackets tell you when you can expect the review to be posted. Links take you the Project Gutenberg page where you can download the novel for free, or, if I previously reviewed the novel, to that review.

  1.  The Lady of the Decoration by Frances Little [Jan. 7, 2017]
  2. The Weavers by Gilbert Parker [Jan. 10, 2017]
  3. The Port of Missing Men by Meredith Nicholson. [Jan. 14, 2017]
  4. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett [also a 1908 bestseller]
  5. The Brass Bowl by Louis J. Vance [Jan. 17, 2017]
  6. Satan Sanderson by Hallie Erminie Rives (Mrs. Post Wheeler) [Jan. 21, 2017]
  7. The Daughter of Anderson Crow by George Barr McCutcheon [Jan. 24, 2017]
  8. The Younger Set by Robert W. Chambers [Jan. 28, 2017]
  9. The Doctor: A Tale of the Rockies by Ralph Connor [Jan. 31, 2017]
  10. Half a Rogue by Harold MacGrath [Feb. 4, 2017]

Poll: your favorites of the 1907 bestsellers [Feb. 7, 2017]
My favorites of the 1907 bestsellers [Feb. 11, 2017]

I look forward to having you join me in my travels through time via vintage bestselling novels.

Project Gutenberg

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Preview of bestselling novel reviews coming in 2017

Happy 2017, novel readers.

If all goes as planned, in 2017 I’ll reach my goal of reading and reviewing each of the bestselling novels published between 1900 and 1969. Most of the novels I’ll review this year are bestsellers celebrating their publication on a year ending in a “7” between those dates.

Two girls giggle on a bed, while woman seated beside them aims a pillow at a man.
                          Illustration from  The Younger Set, 1907

This year I’ll post reviews in chronological order, beginning with the bestsellers of 1907, 1917, and 1927.

Then I’ll skip ahead to 1967. (I previously reviewed the bestsellers of ’37, ’47 and ’57.)

I end my project by reviewing the bestselling novels of 1968 and 1969.

Review dates for 1907 bestselling novels

Man embraces woman in wedding dress
 Satan Sanderson illustration

Here is my list of the 1907 bestsellers. Dates in square brackets tell you when you can expect the review to be posted. Links are to a free download on Project Gutenberg or, if I previously reviewed the novel, to that review.

  1.  The Lady of the Decoration by Frances Little [Jan. 7, 2017]
  2. The Weavers by Gilbert Parker [Jan. 10, 2017]
  3. The Port of Missing Men by Meredith Nicholson. [Jan. 14, 2017]
  4. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett [also a 1908 bestseller]
  5. The Brass Bowl by Louis J. Vance [Jan. 17, 2017]
  6. Satan Sanderson by Hallie Erminie Rives [Jan. 21, 2017]
  7. The Daughter of Anderson Crow by George Barr McCutcheon [Jan. 24, 2017]
  8. The Younger Set by Robert W. Chambers [Jan. 28, 2017]
  9. The Doctor: A Tale of the Rockies by Ralph Connor [Jan. 31, 2017]
  10. Half a Rogue by Harold MacGrath [Feb. 4, 2017]

Poll: your favorites of the 1907 bestsellers [Feb. 7, 2017]
My favorites of the 1907 bestsellers [Feb. 11, 2017]

I look forward to having you join me in my travels through time via vintage bestselling novels.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni