In 2010, I started a year-long reading project as part of the Rochester Public Library’s 100th birthday. My goal was to read one book from each decade that the library had existed. I spent some time researching bestsellers and other books published in each decade from 1911-2011, and then spent even more time tracking down copies of the books I selected. I found many print copies in the stacks of the Rundel Building, but also found plenty of e-books that had been digitized through the Google Books project.
As happens on the internet, things you wrote and posted years ago pop to the surface at odd times. That happened today with my very first post about 100 Years, 100 Books – a review of The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum. That made me go back and look at the books I’d identified as published and popular 100 years ago. Below are two lists: one of notable books published in 1919 and one of the bestsellers of the year.
1. Sherwood Anderson — Winesburg, Ohio
2. Edgar Rice Burroughs — Jungle Tales of Tarzan
3. Joseph Hergesheimer – Linda Condon
4. Hermann Hesse — Demian
5. W. Somerset Maugham — The Moon and Sixpence
6. Baroness Orczy – The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel
7. Mary Augusta Ward – Fields of Victory
8. Virginia Woolf — Night and Day
9. A. A. Milne – The Camberley Triangle
10. H. L. Mencken – The American Language
Publishers Weekly Best Sellers of 1919
1. Vicente Blasco Ibanez – The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
2. Joseph Conrad – The Arrow of Gold
3. Zane Grey – The Desert of Wheat
4. Mary Roberts Rinehart – Dangerous Days
5. Ralph Connor – The Sky Pilot in No Man’s Land
6. Harold Bell Wright – The Re-Creation of Brian Kent
7. Eleanor Porter – Dawn
8. Temple Bailey – The Tin Soldier
9. Elizabeth von Arnim – Christopher and Columbus
10. Robert W. Chambers – In Secret
And, finally, my review of the book I read for 1919 – The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.
I have fond memories of reading the book to which this one is a sequel – The Scarlet Pimpernel– one hot summer in between high school semesters. I was reading anything I could find about the French Revolution, and a librarian at the Gates Library recommended Baroness Orczy and the Pimpernel, which I devoured.
I had not realized there was a sequel until I started creating the lists for this reading project, and was delighted to find my old friend Percy Blakeney among the choices. In fact, I discovered there are a great many sequels to the original Pimpernel, which I’m sure will lead to much more reading for me!
The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel picks up with Sir Percy still rescuing unfortunate maidens and righting wrongs in post Revolution France, albeit in a collection of short stories instead of one longer novel. Each vignette has Percy or another member of The League righting wrongs committed against members the aristocracy or members of their staff. Children are rescued, fortunes restored, and lives set aright, all at the hand of the man with the twinkling blue eyes that can turn to steel in a second.
An entertaining read for fans of the spy genre and historical fiction.