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eBook available: Olivia; or, It Was for Her Sake

Charles Garvice was a very popular author around the turn of the twentieth century, churning out formulaic but sometimes witty romances about upper class British life. Many of his works were reprinted in dime novel format, and so quite a few have made their way into our Digital Library, and a handful from there into Project Gutenberg, thanks to the efforts of Distributed Proofreaders.

The latest such book to be released as a free eBook is Olivia; or, It Was for Her Sake, a fairly typical example of Garvice’s output. The titular heroine is the daughter of a country squire, and the story focuses on her interaction with two neighbors who both grow to love her: a disgraced but self-sacrificing noble who has retired to the country to escape scandal, and a wealthy but ruthless and uncultured “self-made man.” As the setup implies, this is yet another Garvice novel built almost entirely upon its author’s class prejudices. The story is not without its sensational moments, but compared to the twist-packed work of some of Garvice’s contemporaries (like Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller), it seems rather slow-moving and conventional. Still, in spite of its flaws, its author’s style occasionally makes it distinctive, as demonstrated by the dry, ironic humor of its opening paragraph:

It was in the “merry month” of May, the “beautiful harbinger of summer,” as the poets call it; and one of those charming east winds which render England such a delightful place of residence for the delicate and consumptive, and are truly a boon and a blessing to the doctors and undertakers, was blowing gaily through one of the lovely villages of Devonshire, and insidiously stealing through the half opened French windows of the drawing-room of Hawkwood Grange.

If you want to read any further, you can find the entire book available for free online reading (or for download in popular eBook formats) through Project Gutenberg.


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Last Modified: April 6, 2023

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