St. Elmo

UGY01801545AN.jpgAugusta Evans’ St. Elmo belongs to that class of fiction which my sister and I lovingly refer to as ‘high Victorian’.  If you are in the mood for heart-rending melodrama, virtuous pale-faced heroines with raven tresses, impossible love and evil characters convincingly reformed by the Gospel :), then I venture to suggest any one of her books.  But perhaps because this was my first, given to me by an older lady at church, and because it is set in my own beloved state, it remains my favorite.

From a girlhood fraught with tragedy to a triumphant womanhood Edna Earl passes through a series of remarkable events that each make their indelible stamp upon her character.  The dark but dashing St. Elmo Murray is a source of conflict throughout the tale, but the heroine’s resolution is reminiscent of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Beautifully written, with a surprise on almost every page and a liberal sprinkling of references to Classical writers and allusions to Greek mythology, a truly edifying story is woven in the inimitable style of one of the South’s greatest novelists.

 As a point of interest, the ruins of the house that Augusta Evans used as her model for the Murray home still stand in Adairsville, Georgia.  A stay in what was then known as ‘Woodlands’ provided the inspiration for an Italianate manor in the hills of Georgia and the remarkable grounds and gardens surrounding.

woodlands.jpg 

4 Responses to “St. Elmo”

  1. Martina says:

    Thank you for introducing Augusta Evans and for shipping the beautiful copy of St.Elmo to me! Two days ago, I started reading it and read more than one hour past my usual bedtime without even noticing. This almost never happens! It really is a pleasure to accompany Edna.

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      So happy to hear you are enjoying it, Martina! :) I know what you mean–I had a very similar experience with that book! (I have to wonder how many copies have wended their way to Germany! ;))

  2. Martina says:

    Dear Lanier, the picture in your post seemed so familiar to me. I just did a quick research and learned that this is Barnsley Gardens where I spent an absolutely lovely spring day when I was in GA. I cannot believe it!!! Maybe I couldn’t stop reading because I knew the place! I will certainly read on with a different view now!
    One funny thing: Barnsley Garden still seems to belong to the German Fugger family, a very wealthy and influental family from my hometown of Augsburg dating back to the Renaissance. So there is one more connection…
    I also don’t know if there are many copies of St. Elmo here – I really read a lot, and I love GA, but sadly I never ever heard of Augusta Evans. Thank you again for writing about her!
    Wishing you a very cozy advent time – we have tons of snow here! Martina

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      Martina! What a gorgeously small world this is!! Isn’t that the loveliest coincidence?

      I love Barnsley, too. It’s fired my imagination for years. :) It makes me happy to think that you have been there.

      And I’m wishing you could send us some of your snow! Advent blessings to you, friend. :)

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