Monday, March 2, 2015

The Right of Way.

Over the past 12 months or so, I've been devouring everything "Sherlock Holmes". Thanks to PBS and Netflix, I've managed to watch every episode of Sherlock more than twice. Then, thanks to Youtube, I've watched the entire 41 episodes of the series with Jeremy Brett as Holmes. From there, it was on to the fourteen films with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Finally, with the the 1959 version of The Hound of the Baskervilles starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, I'd watched four adaptations of that classic.

Having watched all the Sherlock Holmes I could get my hands on, I downloaded a copy of Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles novel from Project Gutenberg. Just before finishing the novel, I learned that the book was number 7 on the list of the top selling novels of 1902.

I was curious about the list and what books made up the other nine for that year.

The list:

1. The Virginian by Owen Wister

2.Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Caldwell Hegan (Alice Hegan Rice)

3.Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall by Charles Major

4.The Mississippi Bubble by Emerson Hough

5.Audrey by Mary Johnston

6.The Right of Way by Gilbert Parker

7.The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

8.The Two Vanrevels by Booth Tarkington

9.The Blue Flower by Henry van Dyke

10.Sir Richard Calmady by Lucas Malet

I decided that my next reading project would be to read the ten. Being in the public domain, all are available on Project Gutenberg - for free, of course.

Where to begin?

I'd just roll with the flow. For no particular reason, I began with Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. I can understand why it made the list. It's funny. Not rip roaring, but funny in a nice, old fashioned way.

From there, I went to number one on the list, The Virginian by Owen Wister. The novel has been adapted into a number of movies, and a popular television program. Frankly, I thought the novel was passable. I don't really understand why it was the number one book of that year.

The next book on the list was, for me, number six, The Right of Way by Gilbert Parker. Where The Virginian and Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch made the top ten list for 1902 and 1903, The Right of Way made the list for 1901 and 1902.

Gilbert Parker had four novels to make the top ten list for best sellers.

The Battle of the Strong tied for number ten in 1898, The Right of Way 1901 and 1902, The Weavers 1907 and 1908 and The Judgement House in 1913.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Right of Way, so much in fact, I'm tempted to skip the rest of the 1902 list until after I've read more of Parker's work.

It would be difficult for me to give an adequate review of Parker's novel. I can only say that I recommend it.

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