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Chances are, you’re reading this post because you love Isabella Alden’s books.
From the time her first book, Helen Lester, was published in 1865, Isabella enjoyed success as an author.
By the late 1880s readers were buying over one-hundred-thousand copies of her books every year:
When Isabella wrote her novels, there were no Internet sites like Goodreads or online retailers like Amazon for readers to post their reviews of Isabella’s books.
Instead, Isabella’s books were reviewed by literary editors in newspapers across the country.
When her novel Making Fate came out in 1896, a Boston newspaper declared:
Readers of all classes, from the serious to the frivolous, can read this story with entertainment and rise from its perusal refreshed.
In 1901, a San Francisco newspaper reviewed Isabella’s novel, Pauline, and declared Isabella to be “a gifted writer.”
Unfortunately, not all reviewers were so generous with their praise. One literary critic in a Pittsburgh newspaper wrote that Isabella’s 1902 novel Unto the End “is really not half a bad story in its way.” The critic goes on to classify Isabella’s readers among “those who ask from their literature nothing but that it shall not require them to think.” (You can read the entire review by clicking here.)
But reviews like “Pittsburgh’s” were few and far between. On the whole, Isabella’s novels were well received, and millions of Isabella’s faithful fans relied on those reviews to notify them when her new books were available for purchase.
Several times, in her stories and memoirs, Isabella mentioned keeping a scrapbook; it’s possible that’s where she kept clippings of her book reviews.
And if that’s true, she probably also kept reviews of the books written by her niece, Grace Livingston Hill.
Grace’s writing career took off in the 1900s. When her novel The Best Man was published in 1914, The Boston Globe’s literary critic praised the novel, saying it was “full of thrilling moments.”
You can click here to read the full review, which includes a very nice publicity photo of Grace.