Ghost Story Review: "The Old English Baron" by Clara Reeve

@msiduri (5757)
United States
October 20, 2016 8:25am CST
Sir Phillip Harclay returns to England after a long absence to find his dearest friend, Arthur Lovel, is deceased. His castle and lands have be sold by his heir to the heir’s brother-in-law, Baron Fitz-Owen. Sir Phillip, after getting his own affairs in order, pays him a visit. He meets his two sons, William and Robert, as well as a handful of nephews and other relations the baron is raising. One young stands out, Edmund Twyford. He performs well at athletic activities, yet he’s humble. And he ought to be. While the young men of the household have come to regard him almost as a brother, he’s really the son of peasants. His outstanding character, likeability and abilities caused the Baron to bring him into the house. He reminds Sir Phillip so much of the friend he’s lost that he actually offered to bring him into his own household. He demurs—politely—out of love for Baron Fitz-Owen. Phillip understands, but says his offer remains open, should he need it in the future. There are no surprises from here on in as far as plot goes, so I won’t even bother discussing it further. This is looong. Everybody talks and talks and talks and evaluates the courtesy and wisdom of everyone else—except for the bad’un who grumbles and mutters and… Oh, there are some chatty ghosts who appear to Edmund in a dream, a mano a mano combat, some intrigue, but most of all, there’s talk. And talk. And talk. Author Clara Reeves states explicitly (while pretending to be an editor) she wrote this in reaction to Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, which she found a bit hard to swallow because of its supernatural elements. The Old English Baron has its supernatural elements, but they are subdued. No giant helmet falls out of the sky to kill anyone, no giant sword appears out of nowhere takes a hundred people to lift it. the murdered people are laid to rest, there are no more ghostly appearance. The ending resembles the end of the first “Star Wars” movie extended with there were an extra reel of film without the music but instead with a lot of people… talking. This isn’t horrible, but it does take a lot of patience to get through. Unless one is interested in early gothic writing, this probably is difficult to read. The text can be found: _____ Title: The Old English Baron Author: Clara Reeve (1729-1807) First published: 1777 as A Champion of Virtue: A Gothic Story Source: ISFDB
This Story is the literary offspring of the Castle of Otranto…a work which, as already has been observed, is an attempt to unite the various merits and graces of the ancient Romance and m…
2 people like this
2 responses
@teamfreak16 (40502)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 Oct 16
I wish I could read it, but I've only got 22 minutes left on this library computer.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5757)
• United States
20 Oct 16
Twenty-two minutes won't even get Sir Philip home, I'm afraid.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (52100)
• Los Angeles, California
20 Oct 16
Sounds to talky for me. Need a little action and thrills.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5757)
• United States
20 Oct 16
Oh, there are ghosts and a murder. Or at least the report of murder. And a hand to hand combat. And hundreds of pages of dialogue.