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Posts Tagged ‘Boer Wars’

Poem from frontpiece to The Red Planet superimposed on NASA photo of Mars

Poem from the front piece to The Red Planet

The Red Planet is a memoir narrated by Duncan Meredyth, a widowed Boer War veteran living in a small English country village in 1914. Duncan is cared for my his ex-sergeant who was disfigured in the same shell blast that took Duncan’s legs.


The Red Planet by William J. Locke
1917 bestseller #3. Project Gutenberg eBook #4287. My grade: A-.

As friend to his peers and “Uncle” to local young people, Duncan gets to know nearly every thing that happens in Willingsford.

As the story opens, Duncan’s neighbors, the Fenimores, learn their son has been killed in France.

Less than a year earlier their daughter had drowned.

No one had asked aloud why Althea was on the tow-path at midnight.

While Fenimores mourn, Duncan learns Betty Fairfax, who had been engaged to the heroic Major Leonard Boyce, is going to marry Capt. Willie Connor, whom Duncan thinks a nonentity.

Duncan is also surprised to see upper-crust Randall Holmes with his arm around Phyllis Gedge, daughter of a socialist builder.

As Duncan hears village gossip, observes who is with whom, and puts two and two together, William J. Locke develops and redevelops the novel’s characters.

By turns funny, morose, sympathetic, and dogmatic, Duncan always seems like a real person whose opinions on patriotism, heroism, and human nature need to be taken seriously.

©2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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The Judgment House is a complex novel about the marriage of a beautiful woman thwarted in love who settles for power.

Jasmine Grenfel loves the poor but ambitious diplomat Ian Stafford, but marries the unpolished Rudyard Byng and the three million pounds he’s made in South Africa.

Jasmine’s intelligence and social skills make their English home a center of political and financial power. Unfortunately, Jasmine is too self-centered to hear when her husband tells her he finds their London life meaningless.

Meanwhile, Byng’s financial and political interests are threatened by a traitor who is passing information to Paul Krueger, Byng’s and England’s arch enemy in South Africa. Byng refuses to think his native servant could be the traitor.

The second Boer War erupts as their Byng’s marriage teeters on the brink of collapse. Byng and Ian go off to fight for British interests in South Africa.

Jasmine takes advantage of the war to discretely leave her husband under the guise of running a hospital ship for the wounded soldiers.

In The Judgment House, Sir Gilbert Parker wrote a female lead as complex as Fleur Forsyte, a male lead as exciting as Rhett Butler, and a superb supporting cast, yet not one of the characters comes to life.

Gilbert pulls all the threads together with a too-neat, too romantic ending for a story that begs for mature realism. Sadly, Gilbert just doesn’t have the dialog-writing skill to make The Judgment House story real.

The Judgment House
By Gilbert Parker
1913 bestseller #4
Project Gutenberg EBook #3746
39 chapters

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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