Lamp in the Desert Gives Neither Light nor Heat

Hugely popular in her day, Ethel M. Dell churned out romances sprinkled with religious allusions to make her sexy tales palatable to god-fearing masses of women yearning for heaven both in this life and the next.

The Lamp in the Desert shows way she was so popular, and why she drew the contempt of better writers who sold fewer books.

Beautiful Stella Denvers travels unchaperoned to India where she joins her bother, Tommy, who is with the British colonial troops Within six weeks, she marries a handsome rotter, who disappears on their honeymoon from accident, suicide or, perhaps, murder.

Within a year, the widow marries the handsome, reclusive Captain Everard Monck, whom she loves but fears because she knows he’s keeping things from her.

Dell never explains why Stella came to India in the first place, or why she picked Dacre to marry rather than one of the decent men.

Monck’s passion for Stella, with whom he’d never talked even about the weather, is similarly inexplicable.

Dell throws snakes and shadowy figures from the bazaars into the story whenever the plot lags. Otherwise inexplicable behavior is chalked up to malarial fever or use of opium.

Unless you have malaria or use opium, you’ll want to skip this 1920’s novel. There are better plots and more believable characters on daytime soap operas.

The Lamp in the Desert
By Ethel M. Dell
1920 bestseller #9
Project Gutenberg ebook #13763
My grade C-

©2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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