The Hollow

The Hollow, Part 1: Lucinda by John Scudamore

I received a copy of The Hollow to review for The Historical Novel Society Online. I generally choose books that might interest me when the selection list goes around, and this one was described as an Austen-like romance with timeslip elements. I though, I like timetravel fiction. I like Austen. I’ll choose that one as one of my possibilities.

When it arrived, I was duly intrigued by the cover and the back blurb. I started reading it right away.

While not perfect, I was pleasantly surprised by the novel and found myself absorbed by the Scudamore’s treatment of female sexuality. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

If I had to describe this book in one sentence, this is what I would say: It’s a Regency Romance that is more Sarah Waters than Jane Austen.

It’s not perfect, there are anachronisms in the language and description, but the dialog is interesting and raises all kinds of thoughts about female self-discovery for all its lack of perfect, Regency polish.

The narrative follows the sexual awakening of Celia and Lucy, cousins and friends learning how to navigate the strictures that society places on ladies of good breeding. Joined by Alice, Celia’s faithful and knowledgeable maid, these two begin to learn about all those things that make them “tingle”.

That’s one side of the story… The other side involves the Hollow, a place of evil according to local legend, and the arrival of Manfred–a perfectly ordinary twenty-first century physicist who suddenly finds himself transported to Regency England.

Manfred stirs up plenty of trouble in his ignorance of Regency manners, but his involvement in the plot almost seems like an afterthought. That said, I haven’t read the next two books in the trilogy, so I can’t be sure how his part will evolve in the series, but I was much more intrigued by the relationship between Celia, Alice, and Lucy before Manfred became involved in their affair.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. This is an independently published novel; there were a few typographical errors, but these were few and far between, so they weren’t distracting. I think this might be more appealing to fans of Sarah Waters and Diana Gabaldon than Austen (there is plenty of steamy, feminine romance).

You can find The Hollow, Part 1 at The Book Depository.

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Paris 1934

Paris 1934: Victory in Retreat by Paul A. Myers

Sandrine Durand is a vibrant young student and journalist covering the political and fashion scenes of Paris in 1934. Working for both a French and an American paper, Sandrine sees two sides to every story, reporting the straight facts for the Americans and the details for the French. Saucy and flirtatious, Sandrine is coming into her own and establishing her independence amidst the free-thinking citizens of Paris, but she is no ingenue. When opportunity strikes, Sandrine takes it.

The novel’s rich detail evokes lively, early 20th century photographs of Parisian cafe scenes and cityscapes, bringing the era to life. The novel opens with mounting political turmoil, but Sandrine’s presence adds a fun and lively quality to the story, balancing the dryer facts of the historical events that serve as the novel’s background. Sandrine’s French and American friends prove to be just as lively and intriguing as the hopeful journalist; the energetic bistro scenes between Sandrine and the American journalists at the Oasis were some of my favorite moments in the novel.

The first half of the novel takes some time to develop; much of the action revolves around a series of civil uprisings that occurred in Paris early in 1934. The story picks up when Sandrine and her friends are introduced. I found that I enjoyed the social aspects of the novel more than the political history, but I appreciated the insight that the historical details provided as I was unfamiliar with the history of Paris’s pre-WWII politics.

I received a review copy of Paris 1934 from the Historical Novel Society Online. HNS Online publishes a quarterly column on self-published and author subsidized publications. Paris 1934 can be purchased from Amazon.com.


On a side note… to avoid any self-plagiarism issues that might arise, I’m going to hold off on posting the reviews I’ve written for my class readings until grades are in.

Also, I’m playing around with my review format… I think adding the title at the beginning of the post rather than in the review will make the reviews more search and reader friendly.