Always on the lookout for something new to read, I naturally accepted when a friend of mine offered to lend me a book of theirs, saying that they felt sure I would enjoy it.
Did I ever! The first comment I have to make is that I've found when the book has an interesting Preface to it, the book is bound to be really interesting! It's not often that you are hooked on the story by reading the preface, but I confess that I was! Mark Hamby - apparently the Chief Editor for the Rare Collector's Series - captured my interest by describing about how he kept going back and forth about reprinting this book in the series. How he'd read something that would make him decide he couldn't possibly include it and then a while later on read something that impressed upon him that he couldn't possibly not include it. Needless to say, by the end of the one page Preface, I was curious to discover what about this book made him change his mind so many times!
The book opens on a dark, stormy and wild winter night with an equally stormy, wild, and wintery old man nicknamed - appropriatly enough - "Old Hurricane". Despite his thornyness I took to him and enjoyed reading the descriptions of his (many) outbursts of temper. Old Hurricane is called,er dragged away as he would have put it, on this dark night by the preacher to a dying old woman's bedside. ("There - I knew it! i was just aying there might be an old woman dying!") As Justice of the Peace however, he has to go and does so. The woman turns out to be a midwife whom had disappeared some 13 years ago.
She relates the story to a now avidly interested Old Hurricane and proceeds to die soon afterwards. The startling nature of the tale sends Old Hurricane off to New York in search of the midwife's charge. He insists upon going alone, much to the comical dismay of his servants who are convinced the old man has taken it into his head to find himself a young lady to marry.
Old Hurricane arrives safe and sound in New York and soon finds the object of his search. Enter Capitola, a delightfully black haired, mischevous, heroic heroine as you could ever hope to find. Just as to why Old Hurricane resolved upon finding the young girl and bringing her back to Virgina with him is something you shall have to read the book for in order to find out. Rest assured however, Capitola does not marry Old Hurricane.
The rest of the book follows in an interesting, exciting, and occaisonally somewhat complex manner. Up until chapter 24 I admit I was terribly confused as to who everyone was and how they were connected, but my younger sister (who also read it) informs me that she was not confused in the least and my confusion must have due to the fact that I stayed up until 10:30 with a headache reading. Perhaps some truth in that...
The Hidden Hand, by E.D.E.N. (Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte) Southworth is my latest reading recomendation to those who don't have anything to read and especially for those who do. I'd say it's suitable for 12 on up to 120. (Most people don't live past then, which is why I stop there.) It is available from Barnes & Noble as well as from Amazon, as well as being available to read online here. How more convienent could reading a good book get?