Every so often a flawed novel comes along that is delightful in spite of its deficiencies.
The Princess Passes is one of those.
The Princess Passes: A Romance of a Motor-Car
by Alice Muriel Williamson and Charles Norris Williamson
Illus. Henry Holt, 1905. 1905 bestseller #9. Project Gutenberg eBook #14740 My grade: C+ .
Having proposed and gotten a kiss, Lord Montague Lane is shocked to hear at dinner the announcement that his love will marry “the richest grocer in the world” instead of himself.
Monty accepts friends’ invitation to let them drive him to Lucerne where he can go on a walking tour down into Italy while his broken heart mends.
Alert readers will see in chapter two how the story will end—and that’s long before they’ve met the Princess.
Though the plot of the romance is familiar, the Williamsons redeem The Princess Passes by presenting Marty as a late-Victorian Rick Steves: an adaptable, uncomplaining traveling companion with a sense of humor.
Monty chats knowledgeably about history, literature, art, architecture, and local cuisine.
His descriptions of Alpine scenes are virtual reality immersions without the fancy headsets. Witness:
The shadows lengthened and thinned, like children who have grown too fast.
The sense of being there with Monty is heightened by a combination of whimsical drawings and what appear to be vintage photographs.
Such genial companionship transforms a so-so novel into a fictional travelogue that made me wish for a map and a video footage of Monty’s trek.
© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni