Monday, July 12, 2010

Tuesdays Tomes: A Vintage Romance: To Have and To Hold by Mary Johnston

Tuesdays Tomes: weekly book reviews. Read a good book lately? Blog about it and add your book review post in the Linky below. The Linky will now stay open for a week so join in anytime.

Set in Jamestown, Virginia in 1621 this best selling novel of 1900 tells a rollicking good story- the tale of Mistress Jocelyn Leigh and Captain Ralph Percy. They meet on the day that a ship has brought –for the purpose of marriage -a load of women to Jamestown. Here’s how they meet:

“As I neared…there came to my ears the sound of a man’s voice, and then a woman’s angry “Begone, sir!’

‘Kiss and be friends,’ said the man.

…I was not surprised on parting the bushes, to find the man nursing his cheek and the maid her hand.

‘You shall pay well for that, you sweet vixen!’ he cried, and caught her by both wrists.

She struggled fiercely, bending her head this way and that, but his hot lips had touched her face before I could come between.

When I knocked him down he lay where he fell, dazed by the blow…I knew him to be one Edward Sharpless and I knew no good of him…

Her dark eyes, glancing here and there like those of a hunted creature, met my own.

‘Madam,’ I said, ‘will you marry me?’

Upon arriving at his homestead, she quickly informs him that she has no intention of actually acting like a wife…she expects to be treated as an honored guest! But don’t think that this is a rehash of Taming of the Shrew-it isn’t. It’s a ripping good adventure story with one exciting adventure after another. And it is a lovely romance!

This contemporary review sums it up well: from the March 3, 1900 New York Times’ Notes and News; Books and their Makers, “Things happen, important things, stirring things and many of them in rapid succession.”

There are several historical characters thrown into the story, including John Rolfe (husband of Pocahontas), and Opechancaoungh (Powhatan chief after Pocahontas’ father).

Fascinated by Jamestown since childhood, I thoroughly enjoyed this historical romance. I got so into the story that I didn’t just listen to it while sewing or working out…I listened just to listen. I don’t think that if I had picked this book up to read, I would have ever given it a chance. I think that I would have been put off by the faux archaic language and the multiple descriptions of tall pine forests , but it was exceedingly pleasant to listen to. (The same thing happened to me with Bleak House-I could never read Bleak House but I did enjoy listening to it.)

Tom Weiss is a delightful reader. He has a very pleasant voice and he has his own website - - with several audio books for free download. Best of all, you can also listen to one of his audiobooks straight from his website without downloading. It’s the perfect way to try out a book or listen to a short story. All of the books are also available through Librivox.

You can download this free audiobook here or you can download this free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.


Paulette said...

“Things happen, important things, stirring things and many of them in rapid succession.” That just made me laugh out loud!

I really need to check out these audio books. It'd probably be great listening while I'm sewing. Thanks for the recommendations.

Roslyn said...

Oh Thanks Miri, I am loving audiobooks on my iPod Touch & this book sounds right up my alley! I am downloading it as I write. Keep those reviews coming!

Lesly said...

Oh wow - I had an abridged version of this book when I was in fifth grade and absolutely loved it! I haven't thought about it in years - I've already downloaded it! Thanks so much for the memory-twig!