I've charged up my Sony Reader and have been browsing at Project Gutenberg. This website's superb e-books are impeccably proofread, and I very much admire the volunteers who make this happen. I once proofread a novel (for someone else) and was desperately bored after 75 pages. It is essential because if this monotonous, time-consuming work is neglected, very strange errors appear in e-texts: peculiar letter-number combinations like "3r" for "y", and "i" for exclamation points liberally dotted an Internet Archives e-text of E. M. Delafield's Humbug: An Education.
"She always sa3rs she doesn’t want to do! It’s not fair!”
Well, we don't have to worry about typos at Gutenberg.
I'm preparing for a Victorian reading jag. In the waning sunlight of December there's nothing more enjoyable than perusing the once-popular Victorian novels of Mrs. Oliphant, Mrs. Henry Wood, and Mrs. Humphrey Ward. I'm thinking of calling this the "Mrs." Project.
I just downloaded Mrs. Oliphant's A Country Gentleman and His Family. I'm quite a fan of Margaret Oliphant, though I've never heard of this particular novel. A few years ago I read Oliphant's Chronicles of Carlingford novels, a series that resembles Trollope's Barsetshire novels. Penniless curates, hard-working doctors, businessmen, women bankers, old maids, and engaged couples have all manner of conflicts.
My favorite is Miss Marjoribanks. Here's the product description from Amazon:
"Returning home to tend her widowed father Dr Marjoribanks, Lucilla soon launches herself into Carlingford society, aiming to raise the tone with her select Thursday evening parties. Optimistic, resourceful and blithely unimpeded by self-doubt, Lucilla is a superior being in every way, not least in relation to men. 'A tour de force...full of wit, surprises and intrigue...We can imagine Jane Austen reading MISS MARJORIBANKS with enjoyment and approval in the Elysian Fields' - Q. D. Leavis. Leavis declared Oliphant's heroine Lucilla to be the missing link in Victorian literature between Jane Austen's Emma and George Eliot's Dorothea Brook and 'more entertaining, more impressive and more likeable than either'.”
But I'm not utterly wedded to Mrs. Oliphant. If anyone has other suggestions for "Mrs. lit," let me know.