Betty's Virginia Christmas
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Seawell's earliest books were regional novels. Throckmorton (1890) established the basic cast: an elderly old-school southern gentleman, childish but faithful black servants, and young lovers kept apart by family difficulties. Seawell's romantic novels are Ruritanian fantasies tied to some period which allows a historical personage to appear in a minor role—Voltaire in Francezka (1902), Robespierre in The Last Duchess of Belgarde (1908), Napoleon in The Fortunes of Fifi (1903), and so forth. The heroines are active, courageous, stoic, and impeccably pure. The narrative grows from a piquant situation rather than a complex plot.
Molly Elliot Seawell was a popular and widely read writer in her time, included at the beginning of the 20th century in standard reference works on American writers and among the Times's Otis Notman's interview subjects with William Dean Howells, Jack London, and Theodore Dreiser.