Cornelius von Baerle, a respectable tulip-grower, lives only to cultivate the elusive black tulip and win a magnificent prize for its creation. But after his powerful godfather is assassinated, the unwitting Cornelius becomes caught up in deadly political intrigue and is falsely accused of high treason by a bitter rival. Condemned to life imprisonment, his only comfort is Rosa, the jailer's beautiful daughter, and together they concoct a plan to grow the black tulip in secret. Dumas' last major historical novel is a tale of romantic love, jealousy and obsession, interweaving historical events surrounding the brutal murders of two Dutch statesman in 1672 with the phenomenon of tulipomania that gripped seven th-century Holland.
On the 20th of August, 1672, the city of the Hague, always so lively, so neat, and so trim that one might believe every day to be Sunday, with its shady park, with its tall trees, spreading over its Gothic houses, with its canals like large mirrors, in which its steeples and its almost Eastern cupolas are reflected,—the city of the Hague, the capital of the Seven United Provinces, was swelling in all its arteries with a black and red stream of hurried, panting, and restless citizens, who, with their knives in their girdles, muskets on their shoulders, or sticks in their hands, were pushing on to the Buytenhof, a terrible prison, the grated windows of which are still shown, where, on the charge of attempted murder preferred against him by the surgeon Tyckelaer, Cornelius de Witt, the brother of the Grand Pensionary of Holland was confined.
If the history of that time, and especially that of the year in the middle of which our narrative commences, were not indissolubly connected with the two names just mentioned, the few explanatory pages which we are about to add might appear quite supererogatory; but we ... read more
There is a history in all men’s lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceased;
The which observed, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things
As yet not come to life; which in their seeds
And weak beginnings lie intreasured.
Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV., III. i.
They pass through whirl-pools, and deep woes do shun,
Who the event weigh, ‘ere the action’s done.
Webster, Duchess of Malfi, II. 4.
In this serious attempt to forecast the changes ahead in the 20th century from the year 1906, the author deals with the accelerating rate of scientific progress, housing, travel, population, business, pleasure, newspapers, utilization of the sea, science, education, religion, economics, and law. He describes his intentions in the following manner in his Preface:... read more
The Zeppelin’s Passenger is a tale of German espionage in England during World War I. Dreymarsh is a fictional “backwater” area in England with no apparent military value. The story begins with Dreymarsh residents discovering an observation car from a German zeppelin along with a Homburg hat near Dreymarsh. The mystery is further complicated when an Englishman, Mr. Hamar Lessingham, presents himself at Mainsail Haul which is the residence of Sir Henry Cranston. Lessingham bears with him, hand-carried letters from Major Richard Halstead, and a British prisoner of war in Germany. He presents them to Halstead’s sister, Phillipa and Helen, Halstead’s fiancée who have had no word of Richard’s fate and are deeply concerned. Phillipa, Sir Henry’s wife, is smitten with Lessingham, after Sir Henry appears to her to be a coward since he will not become involved in the war effort. Lessingham appears to be the perfect gentlemen but he is not who he pretends to be. Eventually, Phillipa and Helen discover that the delivery of Halstead’s letters come with a price. All becomes clear near the end to discover the secret of ... read more
He was a painter, a poet, a novelist. He lived during the Hungarian revolution and his love of freedom meant his life was often in peril. She was his first love, this girl with the eyes like the sea. She was at heart noble, good and loving. What an excellent lady might have been made out of this woman, if she had only met with a husband who, in the most ordinary acceptance of the word, had been a good fellow, as is really the case with about nine men out of every ten. But she always managed to draw the unlucky tenth out of the urn of destiny. And so she spurned his true love in favor of a high-flying dandy. He went on to pursue a life of politics and she to follow her capricious heart. But yet, throughout her life, she kept returning to him and to the end, of all men, she ... read more
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a novel by Lew Wallace published on November 12, 1880 by Harper & Brothers. Wallace's work is part of an important sub-genre of historical fiction set among the characters of the New Testament. The novel was a phenomenal best-seller; it soon surpassed Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) as the best-selling American novel and retained this distinction until the 1936 publication of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.
Judah Ben-Hur is a Jew of Jerusalem. Arriving at manhood, he has become estranged from his hood friend Messala, a Roman noble. The two exchange bitter words and when Ben-Hur later accidentally dislodges a roof tile which strikes a Roman official, Messala has him sent to the galleys and his mother and sister, Tirzah, sent to a leprosy infested prison cell. As he is being led to the ship on which he will be enslaved, Ben-Hur is offered a drink of water by an unforgettable stranger. Onboard ship, Ben-Hur befriends the Roman admiral Arrius and, after saving his life, is made his heir and... read more
Men of Iron is an 1891 novel by the American author Howard Pyle, who also illustrated it. It is juvenile coming of age work in which the author has the reader experience the medieval entry into knighthood through the eyes of a young squire, Myles Falworth. In Chapter 24 the knighthood ceremony is presented and described as it would be in a non-fiction work on knighthood and chivalry. Descriptions of training equipment are also given throughout. It comprises 68,334 words and is divided into 33 unnamed chapters, an introduction, and a conclusion. It was made into a film in... read more
This 1923 Pulitzer Prize winning novel was written by Willa Cather. This work had been inspired by reading her cousin G.P. Cather’s wartime letters home to his mother. He was the first officer from Nebraska killed in World War I. Claude Wheeler, the subject of the novel, is a young man growing up on a Nebraska farm. The son of well to do parents, Claude is troubled by his apparent inability to find purpose with his life. Everything he does seems to turn out wrong, at least in his own mind. Although he is a skilled farmer, Claude believes his destiny lies elsewhere. While attending a church-affiliated college his parents have selected for him, he befriends a German family (the Ehrlichs’) who open his eyes to other possibilities in life. When Claude’s father expands the Wheeler farming interests, Claude must leave college to return to his roots and operate the Wheeler farm. During this period, he marries a hood friend, Enid, in what turns out to be a marriage of convenience rather than love. Enid tries to convert... read more
The Trumpet-Major, set against the background of the Napoleonic wars, is one of Hardy's most fascinating stories of love and desire. Anne Garland, who lives with her widowed mother in a mill owned by Miller Loveday, has three suitors: the squire's son Festus and the miller's two sons, Robert and John. As the Wessex village prepares for possible invasion by Napoleon's fleet, Anne finds her destiny increasingly tangled up with the events of history. For Robert is a sailor while John is a soldier both with equal commitments to their country and their love for Anne. Lyrical and light-hearted in tone, yet shot through with Hardy's characteristic irony, The Trumpet-Major is one of Hardy's most underrated and unpredictable works. In her introduction to this new edition, Linda Shires brilliantly demonstrates how the novelist defies the reader's expectations by his... read more
Moon of Israel (1918) was one of the earliest Haggard books to be filmed (in 1924, as a silent movie directed by Michael Curtiz). The movie adaptation has been released both as Moon of Israel and The Slave Queen. Interestingly, Paramount bought the original film and suppressed it so it wouldn?t complete with the release of DeMille?s original silent version of The Ten Commandments.
As a book, it is an exceptional retelling of the Biblical story of the Exodus. I?m certain most modern readers will be familiar with the original story. By selecting an unlikely viewpoint character?the scribe Ana?Haggard provides a down-to-earth narrator for a story of fantastic proportion. The novel was first serialized in The Cornhill Magazine from January through October in 1918 and released in book for in October 1918.... read more
The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea is a historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper first published in 1840. It is the fourth novel featuring Natty Bumppo, his fictitious frontier hero, and is considered as forming the third chronological episode of the Leatherstocking Tales.
Natty Bumppo goes by many names: La Longue Carabine, Hawk Eye, Leatherstocking, and in this tale, The Pathfinder. Guide, scout, hunter, and when put to it, soldier, he also fills a lot of roles in pre-Revolution upstate New York. An old friend, Sergeant Dunham of the 55th Regiment of Foot, asks him to guide his daughter through the wilderness to the fort at Oswego where Dunham serves. With the French engaging native Indian allies against the British and the ... read more