Mina Murray's Journal - July 24th


Lucy met me at the station, looking sweeter and lovelier than ever, and we drove up to the house at the Crescent in which they have rooms. This is a lovely place. The little river, the Esk, runs through a deep valley, which broadens out as it comes near the harbour. A great viaduct runs across, with high piers, through which the view seems somehow further away than it really is. The valley is beautifully green, and it is so steep that when you are on the high land on either side you look right across it, unless you are near enough to see down. The houses of the old town—the side away from us—are all red-roofed, and seem piled up one over the other anyhow, like the pictures we see of Nuremberg. Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes, and which is the scene of part of “Marmion,” where the girl was built up in the wall. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows....

Mina is visiting her newly engaged friend Lucy.  But seems to be on her own which is not conventional.  She tells us that Lucy and her mother go out paying what Mina labels "duty" calls.  So she feels free to not take part.  This strikes me as odd since for the time, it wasn't very seemly for women to wander about alone without a chaperone.  Mina also feels free to converse with men.  She makes friends with an old fisherman who she portrays in her journal. 

It is too bad we modern readers can't savor the impact the novel had on its contemporary readers.  But most accounts state that the novel was not a hit when it was first published even though it received numerous good reviews.  Apparently it received a bit more success in the U.S. when it was published in 1899.  But it had nowhere near the fans it has now.  It seems it was a book ahead of its time along with its modern, fearless heroine.

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