Mystery Monday: 1800s Mysteries
Born in 1832, she was raised in New England (primarily Massachusetts) by transcendentalist parents, her upbringing didn’t include a lot of formal education. Primarily homeschooled, Louisa had to go to work in her teens because of her family’s financial straits. However, her parents’ friends included such literary greats as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, so she was able to learn from the masters.
Not unusual for the time, she published under the pen name A.M. Barnard. Her stories have been described as “lurid” and “sensational.” Her novels focused on passion and revenge. Hard to believe after reading Little Men and Jo’s Boys. However, these books were highly popular and she received critical success during the 1860s.
She signed up for a three-month period to serve as a nurse at the Union Hospital in Georgetown, Washington, DC during the Civil War, but had to quit after six weeks because of contracting typhoid. In 1863, she published Hospital Sketches based on letters she sent home during her time as a nurse.
In many ways, the ending is a surprise, but in others typical of Alcott’s writings. It is available for free in many places including the Gutenberg project, so you can read it for yourself.
Ellie Wagner is fine being a spinster school teacher. Then she witnesses a bank hold up and can identify the bandits. Fellow robbery victim Milly Crenshaw happens to run the Westward Home & Hearts Matrimonial Agency so she arranges for Ellie to head West as a mail-order bride. But her groom only wants a business arrangement. Can she survive a loveless marriage?
Banker Julian Sheffield is more comfortable with numbers than with people, but he’s done well for himself. Then the bank president tells him that in order to advance further he must marry in six weeks’ time. The candid, unsophisticated woman sent by the agency is nothing like he expected, but time is running out. When her past comes calling, does he have what it takes to ensure their future?
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