The Bristol Heiress

The Bristol Heiress, by Eleanor Sleath, Printed at the Minerva Press, for Lane, Newman and Co., Leadenhall Street, 1809.

Volume 5

Volume 5 because that’s the only one that was for sale… Anybody have Vols 1-4?

Lady Mirvin, who, during the lifetime of the Earl her father, had been restrained from incurring the fatal mischiefs which sooner or later pursue those who are inclined toward the dangerous pleasures of the gaming-table, now indulged in them to excess ; and as those who have deviated from the paths of prudence themselves too often delight in observing the effects of their own pernicious example upon others, she complimented Caroline upon her talents for play ; was sure, she said, when a little more accustomed to it, she would have extraordinary luck, and concluded with observing, that it had really been the opinion of the town at large that Lady Castleton was afraid of her money. Caroline coldly answered that she had declined it party from motives of disinclination, and partly because she had never been used to play at Portland-Place, her father having absolutely interdicted her appearing at her aunt’s card-tables.

” Lord Castleton, I suppose,” said Lady Mirvin, ” does not disapprove of play, though I believe he does not engage in it himself to any extent?”

” I cannot exactly say how much he may approve of it,” said Caroline ; ” but I recollect he seemed somewhat pleased when I told him I never did play.”

” Well, if he should happen to express any disapprobation, how in such a case do you design to act?”

Well. There you go. The first two pages of Eleanor Sleath’s The Bristol Heiress. I preserved some of the odd punctuation — the spaces around the semicolons and after the initial quotation marks. Though maybe that’s more to do with the size of the actual bit of metal?

Interesting conversational rhythms. I particularly like the phrase I never did play and will probably look for the chance to use it should I ever be so lucky as to contract for more historicals.

I’ve read the volume. If you think that Lady Mirvin is trouble, you’re right. And if you think that Caroline (aka Lady Castleton) is headed for trouble, too, you’d also be right. I was shocked by the outcome to be honest.

Given some of the common prejudices we have about the Regency (Okay so technically this isn’t the Regency, but let’s pretend we got it from the Subscription library in late 1811) what do you think about the author’s casual use of Caroline instead of any of the terms we think would be used today: (lady, Lady Castleton, ladyship

And what about that honking long opening sentence? I thought I’d never get to a period!

Does anybody want to find out more?

About carolyn

Carolyn Jewel was born on a moonless night. That darkness was seared into her soul and she became an award winning and USA Today bestselling author of historical and paranormal romance. She has a very dusty car and a Master’s degree in English that proves useful at the oddest times. An avid fan of fine chocolate, finer heroines, Bollywood films, and heroism in all forms, she has two cats and a dog. Also a son. One of the cats is his.
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6 Responses to The Bristol Heiress

  1. Jane Austen says:

    How do you find some of these books? I went on google books because I was trying to find early books that were about art theft (specifically art theft fiction) and couldn’t find any. I read in an article recently that the first art theft fiction book came out in 1973, but I know of one from the 1950s so I’m wondering what else is out there. Please help.

  2. Carolyn says:

    ABE Books used to have an awesome search feature that, alas, is no longer awesome. That makes me very sad.

    Library catalogs can be particularly helpful. Many Universities allow anyone to search their library (on line) and good use of keywords might get you far.

    Google Books doesn’t yet have a refined enough search feature to make it easy to find fiction that deals with art theft.

    I would not be surprised to learn that the topic is more recent if only because it’s only realtively recently that Art became worth stealing.

    On the other hand, now that I think about it, 1973 seems suspiciously late. Wouldn’t The Maltese Falcon qualify as Art Theft fiction? And I’m pretty sure Agatha Christie wrote something about that. Dorothy L. Sayers would be another “suspect”

    E.W. Hornung’s Raffles books probably qualify as well. (Gentleman thief.)

    So, I think you could, with the assistance of a librarian or library catalog pretty quickly explode that 1973 date. Good luck!

  3. Carolyn, Vols. 1 – 4 were fabulous. I’m sorry you missed them. I don’t even know where to start…

    First, Lady Mirvin isn’t actually Lady Mirvin, in fact she isn’t even a woman. S/he’s a Bow Street runner in drag investigating female gambling hells which are fronts for French spying operations.

    Caroline, who was a female highwayperson for most of the first four volumes is secretly pining for the handsome gentleman she robbed in her first escapade. Not only did her father forbid her Lady Castleton’s card tables, but he also dragged her off the road, told her to put on a dress, and get out there and tackle the marriage mart.

    Meanwhile, the handsome gentleman, Lord Tittlemonger, has given up on Caroline and is bewitched by “Lady Mirvin,” who refuses his advances. She claims to be a recluse from society but Tittlemonger follows her and finds she frequents an all-female gaming hell. Bravely donning his sister’s gown, Tittlemonger applies rouge and powder and discovers he’s strangely comfortable in female clothing; so much so that instead of finding French spies, his visit to the female gaming hell concludes with a heated discussion of the latest fashions over a friendly game of whist.

    Meanwhile, at a charming cottage in Hampstead, a …

  4. Diane Gaston says:

    Hey, Janet. Can I borrow Vol. 1-4??? I’ll drive over to pick them up.

    Carolyn, I especially liked the phrase, “do you design to act.”

    One of the difficulties in reading period fiction is that there are differences in pacing and sentence length. Our modern TV-fed sensibilities don’t have the patience to wade through sentences that go on and on and on and on. But there’s some good characterization there!

    I love abebooks!!!
    You could also search the Library of Congress. But you’d have to come up here to read the book.

  5. Elena Greene says:

    LOL! Re the sentences that go on and on in period works, I rather love them. Though now that I am reading Jane Austen aloud with my oldest daughter, I get out of breath sometimes!

  6. Tee hee! I def want to read the rest. 🙂

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