Filed under: 18th Century, Agatha Christie, Authors, Books, Georgette Heyer, Marie Antoinette | Tags: Agatha Christie, ebooks, Elizabeth Von Arnim, Fanny Burney, free books, Georgette Heyer, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, Madam Campan, Maria Edgeworth, Marie Antoinette, Poirot
GirlEbooks is a brilliant website which “aims to make classic and contemporary works by female writers available to a large audience through the ebook medium.” It’s mainly the work of Laura McDonald and her mum, Joyce, with other contributing bloggers, and I happen to think it’s utterly wonderful.
Yes, there are many websites with free ebook downloads, but I particularly like the selections on offer here – they sort the wheat from the chaff, as it were.
You can get ebooks in lots of places on the internet, but our ebooks are hand-crafted and professionally formatted. Each ebook has a linked table of contents and text reflow for small reading devices. We create covers, correct errors introduced by digital conversion, and offer the ebooks in multiple formats to accommodate most ebook reading devices. All of our ebooks, even the ones in the ebook store, are DRM free (no digital rights management). This means that once you download the ebook, it is yours forever.
Here are some of my favourites, which you should probably all go and download immediately…
If you have ever heard me warbling on about one of my favourite ever authors – Georgette Heyer – and wondered what all the fuss was about, well, now you can find out for free by downloading The Black Moth (her first novel, published in 1921). It was also the first book of hers I read, a mere whipper-snapper myself, and I fell completely head-over-heels in love with her wit, sense of drama and the devastatingly attractive pictures she paints of complete cads and utter bounders. Heady stuff for a young gal and gave me a taste for very clever, sarcastic men. Oh dear.
First published in 1823, these memoirs were written by the first lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette of France. Madame Campan became close to the Queen during her 18 years in service. Her memoirs divulge details of the daily life at the royal court as well as recount the events of the Revolution from the royal family’s perspective.
I’m reading this one at the moment, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Click the picture to be whisked to the download page. Highly recommended!
The Duchess of Devonshire’s second book, first published in 1778, chronicles the life of a young, newly married lady of high society not unlike its author. Written in epistolary format, the story follows Julia from her idyllic country life to her marriage to a rich aristocrat. She soon discovers her husband is nothing other than a rake, spending all his and her money on gambling and mistresses. An anonymous guardian, in the guise of The Sylph, writes to her, giving her guidance through her troubles…but will it be enough?
Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress, was Fanny Burney’s second novel and was first published in 1782. It is the story of Cecilia Beverly, a young and beautiful heiress whose army of suitors is made up of gentlemen, scoundrels, and many who are not what they seem. Admired by Jane Austen and many other contemporaries, it is said that the title for Pride and Prejudice is taken from the last pages of Cecilia.
Belinda, first published in 1801, is the story of a young woman who comes of age amid the distractions and dangers of London society. Belinda stays with both the extravagant, aristocratic Delacours and the sober, rational Percivals and molds her views on love and marriage from both. Admired by her contemporary, Jane Austen, Edgeworth tackles issues of gender and race in a comic and entertaining novel of manners.
Comedies of manners don’t always time-travel well, but in Belinda (for the most part) the comedy still remains fresh, I think, which is something that can be a bit lost in some older novels. Lavish descriptions of costumes, too, which is always a boon.
Four women, all strangers, escape the dismal English weather for a month-long retreat in an Italian villa. Once there, the company of the other women along with the “wisteria and sunshine” brings each character to a heartening realizaion about herself. First published in 1922, The Enchanted April was a best-seller in both England
Oh I still love this one – an especially good choice if you’re feeling under the weather and just want to curl up in bed with a heart-warming story that will definitely bring a smile to your lips.
You can’t beat a bit of Agatha Christie – another good choice for when you’re feeling poorly, I think. This is her first novel, published in 1920, and introduces us to the enigma that is Hercule Poirot, who went on to appear in 33 of her novels and 54 of the short stories.
Anyway, this is a mere glimpse, a veritable smattering of my favourites, but you should go and explore for yourself – GirlEbooks is a treasure-trove of good reads, and perfect for dipping your toes into the works of authors you have always wanted to try, those books you always meant to read, and some you’d never heard of!
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