#Bookreview: Collected Stories & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Collected Stories and Poems

I listed to the audio book of the Collected Stories & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe. I was drawn to listen to his works for the following reasons:

  1. Poe is regarded in literary histories and handbooks as the architect of the modern short story and his story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, is considered to be the first modern detective story;
  2. Poe was the principal forerunner of the “art for art’s sake” movement in 19th-century European literature; and
  3. Poe wrote tales of mystery and the macabre which is a genre I particularly enjoy.

The stories and poems included in this collection are: “The Raven”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Black Cat”, “The Bells”, The Fall of the House of Usher”, “Manuscript Found in a Bottle”, “The Sleeper”, “The Man of the Crowd”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “Annabel Lee”, “The Man That Was Used Up”, “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether”, “The Oval Portrait”, “Eleonora”, “The Facts in the Case of Monsieur Valdemar”, “Berenice”, and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”.

In this review, I am going to comment on the stories that I had not heard of before listening to this collection.

The Cask of Amontillado is a story of revenge and secret murder featuring two characters, Montresor and Fortunato. Montresor is the narrator of the story and starts by explaining that a man called Fortunato has wronged him numerous times but that his recent insult is the last straw that has driven him to make a vow of revenge.

Fortunato is a wine connoisseur and Montresor comes across him at a carnival. Fortunato is dressed as a jester and is very drunk. He is also pleased to see Montresor and does not suspect that he is plotting to kill him. Montresor entices Fortunato to come home with him and see a barrel of wine he has acquired. Fortunato agrees to accompany him and they enter the catacombs underneath Montresor’s home where his ancestors are buried.

The story is beautifully plotted and told and full of little details that fill the reader with horror as Montresor’s evil plan becomes more obvious. I enjoyed the auditory descriptions of the bells on Fortunato’s jester costume ringing and the clanking of his chains in the darkness of the crypt.

CaskofAmontillado-Clarke.jpg
Illustration by Harry Clarke, 1919

The Tell-Tale Heart was my favourite story in this collection because of the psychology of the murderer. I am fascinated by what goes on in the minds of serial killers and other murderers and how they justify their actions in their own heads.

The story starts with an unnamed narrator stating that he is nervous, but that he believes he is not mad. He says he is going to tell a story in which he will confess to murder but which will prove his sanity. The narrator is terribly afraid on the pale blue eye of an old man he knows. Every night he spies on the old man while he is sleeping. A week later, the narrator decides to kill the old man and rid himself of the watching eye.

When the narrator arrives to commit the murder, the old man hears him and is very afraid. The narrator fancies he can hear the old man’s heart beating. Fearful that the old man’s neighbour’s can also hear the beating sound, he attacks and kills the old man. He then dismembers him and buries him beneath the floorboards.

A short while later the police arrive after being summonsed by a neighbour who hear the old man cry out before he died. The narrator leads the police all over the house but when he shows them into the old man’s bedroom, where his body lies beneath the floor, the sound of a beating heart fills his ears getting louder and louder.

Poe’s ability to demonstrate the disintegration of the narrator’s mind in such a few number of words is quite incredible and he shows himself to be a master story tale. This story was particularly unnerving and creepy for me.

Illustration by Harry Clarke, 1919

The system of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether is a darkly satirical tale about a young doctor who chances to pass a famous mental asylum and decides to stop and enquire about the famous ‘soothing system’ implemented by the asylum’s director. In terms of this system, patients are not punished for misconduct and are given extensive freedom to wander the premises. They are also allowed to wear customary clothing and not hospital garb.

The young doctor meets the proprietor of the psychiatric hospital, Monsieur Maillard, and his niece. The narrator initially thinks the young woman might be a patient of the hospital but Monsieur Maillard rectifies his thinking and tells him that the soothing system has been abandoned as a failure. Maillard does not tell him what system has replaced the soothing system but rather invites him to dinner at 6pm. During the dinner, Maillard confides to the narrator that they asylum is now using a system of Tarr and Fether, which is much stricter than the old soothing system.

I enjoyed this story and the use of the extended metaphor relating to Tarr and Fether. As a reader, it quickly became apparent that the narrator was being completely conned by Maillard and the other dinner guests, but he just cannot see it. The ending is not unexpected to the reader the the actions of the narrator are mystifying.

This collection also includes some of Poe’s best poems, including my favourite, The Sleeper.

You can listen to my recital of The Sleeper here:

Purchase Collected Stories & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe from Amazon US

Have you read Poe’s works? Which is your favourite?

Open Book Blog Hop – Disguises

If your character wanted to wear a disguise, how would they dress?

This is a bit of a tricky question for my characters as many of them are historical and would not have had the opportunity to change their style of dress.

In A Ghost and His Gold, Pieter the Boer (farmer) and Estelle the Boer Meisie (farm girl) would have dressed in the traditional clothing of the time which would have been made by Marta, Pieter’s wife, and his daughters, including Estelle.

Typical everyday dress for Boer men consisted of flaptrousers of skin or moleskin with a waistband or a pair of braces, a cotton or woolen shirt, a waistcoat of cotton or wool, a neckcloth, a jacket of moleskin, velskoens (skin shoes) without socks and a broad rimmed hat.

Men’s Sunday church outfits comprised of velvet flap-trousers, a shirt of fine white linen, a waistcoat of velvet, brocade, silk or satin, a cloth frock-coat or velvet jacket, bow-tie, socks and velskoens as well as a top hat.

This was the attire everyone wore so the disguise would have been in looking just the same as all the other Boers and fitting in if you were an infiltrator. Of course, a British soldier would have also needed to speak Afrikaans without an English accent…

Women and girls wore dresses with a narrow bodice and wide skirt of flowered, striped or checked chintz, an apron, a neckcloth of silk or silk tafetta, mittens and a linen bonnet. Their shoes, usually worn without socks, were made of goat or sheep skin.

Girls dresses were a little shorter than their mothers.

Women’s Sunday church outfits consisted of a dress of silk, satin or velvet with a cashmir shawl. Older women wore mantlets (a woman’s short, loose sleeveless cloak or shawl). White cotton socks were worn with their shoes and a bonnet or hat of silk, velvet or straw.

Girls often went barefoot.

Picture of a Boer driving his wagon
Picture of a Boer Vrou in the back of the wagon

Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Read what other writers think here: https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b

Thursday Doors on Saturday – St Andrews, town and castle

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

St Andrew’s is a town near Edinburgh in Scotland. The town is famous for the University of St Andrews and is known as the worldwide ‘home of golf’.

Here are a few pictures of the doors around St Andrews town:

St Andrews Castle

Wikepedia says:

The ruins of St Andrews Castle are situated on a cliff-top to the north of the town. The castle was first erected around 1200 as the residence, prison and fortress of the bishops of the diocese. Several reconstructions occurred in subsequent centuries, most notably due to damage incurred in the Wars of Scottish Independence.

The castle was occupied, besieged and stormed during The Rough Wooing and was severely damaged in the process.

The majority of the castle seen today dates to between 1549 and 1571. The work was commissioned by John Hamilton (archbishop of St Andrews) in a renaissance style which made the building a comfortable, palatial residence while still remaining well-fortified. After the Reformation, the castle passed to several owners, who could not maintain its structure and the building deteriorated into a ruin. The castle is now a scheduled monument administered by Historic Environment Scotland.

You can read more about St Andrews here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Andrews

You can join in Thursday Doors here: https://nofacilities.com/2021/07/01/amos-bull-house-pulaski-mall/

Dark Origins – Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

I am over at Writing to be Read with a post about the dark origins of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. Thank you for hosting me, Kaye Lynne Booth.

My dad was diagnosed yesterday with a cluster of blood clots in the pulmonary artery near the lungs. He can’t be admitted into ICU in a hospital because we are in the midst of the third wave of Covid and it is to dangerous for him, so we are treating him at home with injections of a strong blood thinner. Fortunately, it is not difficult to learn how to give injections and we are monitoring him for side effects. He had a better today. Thank you to all of you for all your kind comments and support.

Writing to be Read

Do you know the nursery rhyme Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush?

I remember it from when I was a girl. The girls used to hold hands and dance in a circle singing the lyrics and doing the actions.

These are the first two stanzas of the most modern version:

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our face,
Wash our face,
Wash our face.
This is the way we wash our face
On a cold and frosty morning.

The rhyme was first recorded by James Orchard Halliwell, an English Shakespearean scholar, antiquarian, and a collection of English nursery rhymes and fairy tales, as an English children’s game in the mid-nineteenth century.

The song and associated game are traditional in England and different…

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Open Book Blog Hop – Punctuation

Without punctuation, writing would be unkempt and wild

Do you use said or asked after a ? or tag your interruptions? Any punctuation that bugs you? What’s the hardest for you to get right?

Dialogue tags are those short little phrases in dialogue that identify the speaker. Remember the main function of a dialogue tag—to identify who’s speaking.”

When I started writing this is what I was told – stick to said, and that is pretty much what I do if I use a dialogue tag. It does make sense to me that dialogue tags are there for clarification purposes, so that readers know who is speaking, and no other purpose. Drawing attention to them by using other words does not seem necessary.

However, said can also be overused and repetitive. I recently listed to the audio book of Last Man Standing by Jeff Shaara. He used said so often that I began to notice it and it became an irritating distraction in the story. I started counting all the saids. Last Man Standing is a brilliant story but I deduced a star because of the said over usage and how much it irritated me by the end of the book.

Having been told by the very wise Charli Mills to watch for word repetition when I write, I try not to beat said to death in my books. I try to introduce the speaker by showing what they are doing before the speak.

A few examples of how I’ve used this technique in A Ghost and HIs Gold are as follows:

“These sausage rolls are amazing.” Carl stuffs another one into his large mouth.

“You have a Ouija board?” Sue’s eyebrows rise.

Pieter drains his mug. “I need to see to some business and then we must get ready to trek.”

As you can see from the second short quote, I use this same technique for questions.

Other punctuation?

I am a fan of punctuation. Poor punctuation makes a book much more difficult to read and can result in misunderstandings. I try very hard to get punctuation correct in my books and use the services of an editor to help me get it as correct as possible. I have accepted that it is never possible to get everything 100% correct in a book so I am for 95% plus.

How do you feel about the use of dialogue tags. Should writers stick to said or get inventive.

Update on my dad

Thank you to everyone who has sent messages of support or left kind comments. This is a difficult time for my family and the fact we are in the middle of the third wave of Covid and it is the Delta variant is not making life easy.

My dad saw a cardiologist yesterday and we had a serious of tests afterwards – extensive blood work and an x-ray. He has been diagnosed with a pulmonary artery embolism or blood clot in the artery near the lungs. This blockage has damaged his heart, especially on the right hand side. Tomorrow I am taking him to the hospital early for a CT scan so they can assess the size of the clot and extent of the damage. He then sees the cardiologist for a treatment plan. Please hold thumbs for the best possible outcome.

Take care and stay safe.

You can join in the Open Blog Book Hop here: https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0

Rules:

1. Link your blog to this hop.

2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.

3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.

4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.

5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

A Ghost and His Gold

Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda series of books, has written a lovely review of A Ghost and His Gold. Thank you, Darlene. While you are visiting her blog, take a look at her lovely collection of Amanda books. They are great adventures for middle school children.

Darlene Foster's Blog

The title and the cover of this book caught my attention immediately. I love books set in another country, especially if the story contains part of the history of that country. A Ghost and His Gold by prolific author, Roberta Eaton Cheadle takes place in her home country of South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War between 1899 and 1902. But this isn’t just a historical novel, it also takes place in modern times with a paranormal twist. How the two time periods connect makes this a thrilling story.

Here is the blurb.

After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.

Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep…

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Thursday Doors – St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

I am late with my post this week. The reason is that my dad is very unwell. He is in heart failure and is currently bed ridden. My mom and I are looking after him and I am also trying to ensure my mom doesn’t overdo it and make herself ill. His condition is stable, but we have to wait for the medicine to bring about improvements, if it is going to work.

Today, my post is about St Augustine’s Abbey. I had said I was going to post about St Andrew’s but I haven’t had a chance this week to find those pictures.

This is what English Heritage has got to say about St Augustine’s Abbey:

“St Augustine’s Abbey was one of the most important monasteries in medieval England. For almost 1,000 years, it was a centre of learning and spirituality. Established as the result of the mission to bring Christianity to England, it was reduced to ruins during Henry VIII’s Suppression of the Monasteries.”

You can join in Thursday Doors here: https://nofacilities.com/2021/06/24/bits-of-historic-hartford/

Season 3 Episode 25: Roberta Eaton Cheadle Reading “A Ghost And His Gold”

I am over at Tea, Toast and Trivia hosted by Rebecca Budd with a podcast about my writing process and research for A Ghost and His Gold and a reading from this book. Thank you, Rebecca.

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Bookstores, libraries, and coffee shops are great places for book readings. There is something extraordinary about hearing the voice of an author reading their stories. Their voice and intonation are nuanced by the many hours of effort putting pen to paper.  They created the characters, structured the plot, and lived every twist and turn that creates bumps in the storyline. 

A Ghost and His Gold

Living in the reality of Covid-19, book readings at public libraries and bookstores have been curtailed.  We are learning to embrace technology in new ways.  Welcome the podcast series, “Authors Reading their Books”, which will recreate the reading spaces in a virtual venue.  I invite you to put the kettle on and join the conversation on Tea Toast & Trivia. I am your host Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

I am thrilled to introduce Roberta Eaton Cheadle who has graciously agreed to be our guest author reading from her novel, “A Ghost and his Gold.”  Roberta is a South African writer specializing in historical, paranormal and horror novels and short stories. Keep your lights on because we are about to meet up with a sinister poltergeist.

Continue reading and listen to the podcast here: https://teatoasttrivia.com/2021/06/21/season-3-episode-25-roberta-eaton-cheadle-reading-a-ghost-and-his-gold/

Open book blog hop – Beta partners

The Day of the Triffids

If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

What is a beta reader?

A beta reader is usually a test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author. This feedback is used by the writer to fix any issues with plot, pacing and consistency.

This sounds very good and all writers should have their books beta read.

This declaration being made, I have never actually asked anyone to beta read one of my books. I have, however, beta read other authors books.

The reason I have not asked anyone to beta read my books is because, to date, I have considered that they require more than beta reading to get them into suitable shape for publishing. I did not study creative writing at university [in fact, as most of you know, I studied accountancy which is probably about as far away from creative writing as anyone could get] and I felt that I need to make a solid financial and learning investment in my writing if I want to learn the tools of writing. My view was that I couldn’t expect to get the extensive advice and help I felt I needed from someone who kindly volunteered to read a draft of my book. That just didn’t feel right to me; it felt like I would be taking advantage of the volunteer.

To this end, I engaged the services of a developmental editor to read and comment on each of my three books, While the Bombs Fell, Through the Nethergate, and A Ghost and His Gold.

What an absolutely worthwhile investment it has been for me. I learned so much from Charli Mills, who developmentally edited While the Bombs Fell, and Esther Chilton, who developmentally edited Through the Nethergate and A Ghost and His Gold, I could never do them justice no matter how much praise I give them.

Between the two of them, they taught me about timelines in stories, how to include research without information dumping, how to spot lose ends in my plot threads and tie them up, how to expand and develop and idea to make it richer, flow better, and more interesting and attention garnering.

One of the pieces of advice I was given was to carefully reads the works of other authors whose writing I admire and who I aspire to emulate and to learn from the way they wrote, developed ideas, described things, and wrote dialogue. In response to this great advice, I have dived into many books to see how the writer shaped his/her ideas. You can learn so much from other writers.

Once my books have been developmentally edited and effectively re-written, I give them to my mother to read. My mother is an ordinary reader and she is very quick to point out things like when I insert my own [strong] opinions to overtly into my books, when I think some concept is adequately explained but she can’t make head or tale of it, and other similar problems. I understand that Robert Jordan’s wife performed a similar service for him as he got carried away with ideas that sometimes made no sense to a reader.

I have gained more confidence with my writing over the past few years and I have recently acquired a beta partner who I am working with on my new novel. I will probably still use the services of a developmental editor though, as I have found it to be such a worthwhile investment for me.

In summary, I would probably not want any historical or current famous author to beta read my books, but I will continue to look to the works of great writers like Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Margaret Mitchell, C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, John Wyndham, and Edgar Allan Poe, to name but a few, for inspiration and guidance.

Who author would other blog-hoppers choose to be their beta partner? Click on the link below to find out.

Rules:

  1. Link your blog to this hop.
  2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
  3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
  4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
  5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

Thursday Doors – A visit to Rugby, Warwickshire, England

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

In 2019, Terence and I visited the town of Rugby in Warwickshire. This lovely town is home to Rugby School which is the birthplace of Rugby football. According to legend, Rugby football was invented in 1823 by a schoolboy from the school called William Webb Ellis.

Street through the shopping area in Rugby

You can join in Thursday Doors here: https://nofacilities.com/2021/06/17/spring-leftovers/