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The Lamplighter by Maria Susanna Cummins
I was drawn to borrow this novel solely on the basis of its appearance; I harbour a helpless attraction towards old books. The title also added to my intrigue, certainly, but I had no idea what I was in for: a deeply religious sentimental novel
. It was clear from the very first chapter that there was going to be much praise of the heavenly Father.
I finished it anyway.
What we have here is the tale of an orphan child, Gertrude, in the beginning cruelly left to fend for herself by the person who had acted as her guardian, finding kindness, friendship and love in complete strangers - a kind of a family where she previously had none. Oh, and being taught to be good and virtuous through faith in God, of whom she knew nothing before her rescue. The story advances in leaps and bounds, following her through various trials to adulthood and a kind of independence. She has, miserable as the first years of her life were, become an exceedingly admirable young woman. There is all manner of happening and drama. And of course she has a love interest, too, a beloved childhood companion who at one point departed for India. The mystery of her birth is also addressed.
But I shan't say anything more; I'll let you read it for yourself, should you be so inclined. Despite being somewhat discomfited and annoyed by the constant praise of the Lord, I did find the story engaging and touching, even when I could see some (alright, many) 'revelations' from a mile away. Word of warning, though: if you absolutely detest the narrative breaking the fourth wall at regular intervals and care for such pious text even less than myself, I wouldn't recommend the novel.
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