eBook available: The Shadow Between Them
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Distributed Proofreaders project has released a new romance by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller to Project Gutenberg, built from images in our Digital Library.
The Shadow Between Them; or, A Blighted Name was first serialized in The New York Family Story Paper as A Blighted Name; or, The Tragedy of Hallowe’en, but was later retitled for its 1910 and 1923 appearances in Street & Smith’s Eagle/New Eagle Series; the new digital edition is derived from the latter of those two reprints.
The novel follows the misadventures of Eva Somerville, a young, orphaned West Virginia girl who lives with her grandfather, who needs constant attention due to a wound received during the Civil War, and several other family members he has taken under his roof. One Halloween night, a prank incited by her selfish older cousins leads to a tragedy, turning her family against her and driving her temporarily insane. From here, twists and turns in Mrs. Miller’s usual style proceed.
In addition to being a good example of its author’s style and the period’s standards for over-the-top entertainment-oriented reading, the book is interesting for several reasons. Like many of Mrs. Miller’s novels, much of the story is set in West Virginia, where the author spent much of her life, and it occasionally offers glimpses of the region’s places, traditions and politics. The book also contains an interesting portrayal of mental health care, which is very much “of the period” and certainly not realistic, but which depicts a workplace populated by human beings and troubled by real-life problems (including sexual harassment) rather than the usual stereotypical house of horrors. On a note less flattering to the author’s legacy, the novel’s eventual happy ending casually relies on the period’s anti-Irish prejudices in a way likely to startle the modern reader.
If you would like to see this all for yourself, the entire book can be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.
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