There are so many different authors that I like. Some are modern, many are not. Some have only written a few books while others have written almost a hundred. There are authors who write just one genre, and there are others who write different genres. But no matter what they write, they all have a unique style, a certain way with words that no other author has.
Come with me for another Closer Look at an author who has written around 100 books. We’ll look at her style, and her characters, her descriptions and plots, and perhaps you’ll discover a new author you’d like to try.
Let’s go now to my favorite author Isabella Alden. She is the author I go back to when I get tired of the modern rush and excitement, of the not so well written stories, of the touchy romance, or the wishy-washy doctrine.
Born in New York in 1841, Isabella Macdonald Alden was taught at home by her father during her younger years. Given the nickname “Pansy” for something she did when a small child, Mrs. Alden used that as her pen name. Her first publication came when she was 10, and it was a poem in the local newspaper. In 1865 there was a contest for a story that best pointed children to Christ. Isabella wrote a story, but wouldn’t sent it in. She told her friend to burn the story because she didn’t think it was any good. Instead her friend sent it in to the contest. She won first place. Married to Reverend Gustavus Rossenberg Alden in 1866 gave Isabella new story materials. Active all her life in Christian work, Mrs. Alden started a weekly magazine for children titled “The Pansy” and continued writing books. Isabella Alden “Pansy” died in 1930, but her influence is still felt today through her own books, and through those of her niece, Grace Livingston Hill.
To find out more about Isabella Alden, click here. (They also have a few free stories by Pansy.)
Isabella Alden can take you into a room, be it shabby or lovely, and in a few words lets you almost feel the hard floor, or the rich carpet under your feet, you can see the rough walls, the dirty dishes, the rickety chairs, or you see the soft colors of the walls, the dancing flames in the fireplace and long to sink down in the easy chair for a chat. It’s not just the houses that this author paints before you, but the great outdoors, the cities, the country, the mountains, the tent life of Chautauqua, and leaves you feeling that you’ve actually visited there.
The conversations is Mrs. Alden’s books are rich and bring the characters to life, whether it be a street urchin, a city lawyer, a rich young lady, or just a regular person. It is easy to tell that this author studied real people, the way they talked, and used it to great advantage.
There are some Pansy books that have a more exciting plot, but there really are no mysteries, no kidnappings and escaped convicts. But this doesn’t mean the stories are dull. Far from it! Depending on the story, you might find your characters lost in the wilderness of Yellowstone, getting on the wrong train and falling asleep which changes their life, or going to live with a family they don’t really know. But each one has something in common: Christ.
As the wife of a pastor, Isabella Alden wrote about real life. The struggles and stories she came across in her life are portrayed on the pages of her books. Many of them deal, at least in some degree, with drinking, as that was a real part of life back in the 1800s (as it is today). Issues with drugs, Mormonism, dancing, card playing, unbelieving friends or family, and most importantly, trying to live without Christ. These are all dealt with different books. Not every book takes on every issue, but everyone deals with something. Life is not a bed of thorn-less roses. But nothing is told in a way as to defile. This author can take you into the poorest of slums, and bring you out again without filling your mind with filth, but only a longing to share Christ with the teaming multitude.
I always laugh when some publishing house tries to promote the Pansy books as “Romance” because frankly, there is very little romance. Yes, some of the characters get married, some of the books deal with it a little more, but that is almost never the focus of the book. And, come to think about it, I scarcely recall any kisses. Now this doesn’t mean there isn’t some delightful, wholesome friendships that end in marriage, but nothing I would caution even my 10-year-old niece about, though many of the Pansy books she isn’t interested in yet because they were written for older readers.
These are very strongly Christian books with strong Christian principles and doctrine. Mrs. Alden doesn’t rely simply on what some preacher said, but on the Word of God, and her characters find truth in the Bible. But this doesn’t mean these are preachy books. Far from it. This author has such a way with words that the teaching is part of the story, woven in so skillfully that the reader doesn’t stop reading. I always learn from her books even if I’m just re-reading one.
Time Periods and Places and People:
Since Isabella Adlen lived in the 1800s, that is when her stories take place. And sometimes that is really fun as she’ll tell about a “new invention” such as a machine to wash your dishes! Or a machine that lets you write called a typewriter. 🙂 The people in her stories are, for the most part, just ordinary people living ordinary lives. The kind you would expect to meet if you lived back then. When it comes to places, or settings, the author keeps you at home. She doesn’t take you wandering foreign lands except once in all the 70+ books that I have read. But she will take you to real places like Chautauqua, or Albany, NY, or Utah.
I haven’t found anything to object to in Isabella Alden’s books. There is no language to watch out for. There are no defiling scenes to skip. Some may have things in them that younger readers won’t understand or be interested in, but I’ve never had to use the whiteout on her books. I’ve never had to skip anything.
This author is so full of wonderful advice that I really find it hard to pick just one thing! And most of that advice comes directly from Scripture.
And that ends our third Closer Look of an author. Would you like more Closer Looks? Do you think you would enjoy Isabella Alden’s books, or are they not your type? Do you get tired of constant action and wish for something slower but well written? What books do you go back to re-read when you want something to refresh?