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Christopher and Columbus

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(1919)




Elizabeth von Arnim was an exquisite author whose whit and social commentary rivals, and in my opinion surpasses, that of Jane Austin. Surely her novels belong at least in the company of Ms. Austin's. Christopher and Columbus is full of laugh out loud whit and turn of phrase. It is an absolute pleasure from beginning to end. It is the story of orphaned young women, twins, who were neither entirely grown up, nor entirely English, nor entirely German at a time when one needed to be decided in such matters. It is World War I and they aren't wanted by any of their extended family. So they are shipped off to the New World. On the voyage, they meet a kind American entrepreneur, Mr. Twist, who determines to help these two naive girls by seeing them safely to their new dubious connection in the United States. When upon arrival what had appeared dubious turns out to be non-existent, he gets much more than he bargained for. He must continue to provide aid or cast them off as their relatives have. He proves himself a better man, but that doesn't mean things go easy for them all. Though the circumstances of this story are somewhat desperate, the novel remains decidedly light and uplifting due to the very unique viewpoint of the twins. These two unique characters will steal your heart, as they did Mr. Twist's, even though they roll their “Rs” in a decidedly German fashion.--Submitted by Dana Sherstad




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