Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: The Judge and the Lady by Marlyn Horsdal

Author, editor and one-time publisher, Marlyn Horsdal, pulls a page out of British Columbian history for her latest novel, The Judge and the Lady (Touchwood).

It is 1870 and beautiful Eleanor Wentworth arrives in the coastal city of Victoria from London just in time to lower her expectations. How can the fledgling city at the edge of frontier ever find its place in society? Though her first thought is to flee (but to where?), she soon finds herself attracted to a fascinating man who looks as though he may well go places, despite the disadvantages of location.

While Horsdal’s prose is occasionally a little breathless, her research and passion moves the story forward fruitfully. This is one for those who like a bit of fiction woven in with their history. And the history here seems unimpeachable. In an author’s note, Horsdal shares the fact that she edited a biography of Judge Matthew Begbie (the historical person whom the fictional Eleanor finds so fascinating). “I have portrayed the real Judge Begbie as accurately as I can,” Horsdal writes, “much of what he says in the novel is actual quotes, or drawn from his Bench Books, letters, and other writings.”

The Judge and the Lady provides as complete a fictional portrait of the era and the place as one can hope to find. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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