We do have meanings now and then but they seldom come to much: Margaret Oliphant’s Salem Chapel

In 1863, Margaret Oliphant gifted the world with Salem Chapel, which is book one of the immensely popular Carlingford Chronicles. The novel opens in a way that is, I think, meant to remind us of the gentle satire of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford (1851): the story is about a small town’s small Dissenting congregation and how…

They almost understood each other: Margaret Oliphant’s Hester

Friends, the nineteenth century is a (literary) gift that just keeps on giving. A few days ago, I finished Margaret Oliphant’s excellent novel Hester (1883) and I’ve fallen in love all over again. Not that I’d ever fallen out of love; the nineteenth century is so rich, keeps surprising me, keeps reeling me further in….