The Gambler visits sins of father on daughter

The Gambler is a novel about an Irish girl whose life is imperiled by her genes, her upbringing, and her own innocence.

The danger to Clodagh is moral rather than mortal—and it’s terrifying.

 After gambling with her father, Milbanke encounters Clodagh
After gambling with her father, Milbanke encounters Clodagh who begs him not to encourage her father’s gambling habit.


Asshlin angrily refuses to let his old friend Milbanke refuse to accept payment for his gambline debt.
Asshlin angrily refuses to let his old friend Milbanke refuse to accept payment for his gambling debt.


The Gambler: A Novel by Katherine Cecil Thurston

Illus. John Cameron. Toronto: Fleming H. Revell,1905. 1905 bestseller #6. Project Gutenberg ebook #33490. My grade: B+.

When Denis Asshlin is fatally injured, his daughters write their father’s school friend, James Milbanke, for help.

Asshlin’s gambling has beggared his girls.

Milbanke can send Nance to boarding school, but what can he do with 17-year-old Clodagh?

Milbanke proposes marriage.

“I suppose it is what father used to call a debt of honour,” Clodagh says.

Four unhappy years later, while her husband talks about archaeology, Clodagh meets titled society people.

She envies—and fears—them.

After Milbanke dies leaving Clodagh a comfortable income, she rejoins her high society acquaintances.

Soon Clodagh’s gambling debts are larger than her annual income.

When she looks in the mirror, Clodagh sees her father’s face.

She accepts 1000£ from Lord Deerehurst realizing it obligates her but unaware what payment he expects.

A less adept writer than Katherine Cecil Thurston couldn’t have made Clodagh more than a pretty doll.

Thurston makes her a complicated woman-child, craving love and respect but traumatized by a childhood she cannot ever outgrow.

  © 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni

The Masquerader Is Bold-Faced Entertainment

QR code for The Masquerader
Masked link to The Masquerader

Within the first 1000 words, The Masquerader plunges from the back benches of Parliament to the backstreets of London, setting up a psychological thriller that readers won’t soon forget.

In a dense fog, John Chilcote bumps into a man who could be his twin. John Loder’s resemblance to him offers Chilcote a way to maintain his position without giving up his morphine addiction.

He hires John Loder to exchange places with him.

Loder had at one time eyed a political career. The opportunity is too good to be passed up.

Thanks to Chilcote’s reputation for eccentricity and Loder’s interest in politics, the masquerade works smoothly, until women get involved.

Though married, Chilcote has been flirting with a woman with whom Loder had had a brief affair years before. But Loder find’s Chilcote’s wife, Eve, far more to his current taste.

The personalities of the characters make the outcome inevitable.

Katherine Cecil Thurston doesn’t give readers time to realize the absurdity of the look-like theme before she sweeps them away into the plot.

The Masquerader may not be great literature, but you can’t beat it for entertainment.

The Masquerader
by Katherine Cecil Thurston
Harper & Brothers, 1904
328 pages
1904 bestseller # 3
1905 bestseller # 7
Project Gutenberg ebook #5422
My grade: B+

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Max Unbelievable in Trousers or Skirt


Paris rooftops
Paris Rooftops

In a first class compartment of a night train into Paris, a standoffish youth in common Russian clothes attracts attention. The following day, one of the passengers, Ned Blake, runs into the lad again. Thinking the lad too inexperienced to be left on his own, Ned offers to show him Paris.

Ned and Max become chums, despite the difference in their ages and outlooks. Intelligent readers realize almost immediately that Max  is really the run-away Russian Princess Davorska, though Ned never has a clue.

Max says he has come to Paris seeking fame as an artist. Ned warns, “Failure may be cruel, but success is crueller still.”

Is Ned right? Will fame be cruel to Max?

Readers never find out.

Katherine Cecil Thurston takes the novel in a quite different direction.

Instead of presenting Max as ambitious artist, she presents Max as an emotionally scared victim of an abusive husband, posing as a male to avoid a physical relationship with a man.

But Thurston also has Max willingly strolling arm in arm with Ned, spending hours with him. That’s not the behavior of a man-hater. Nor is Ned’s failure to recognize Max is a female the behavior of the observant man Thurston made him out to be in the opening chapter.

In the end Max turns out to unsatisfactory as a love story and equally unsatisfactory as feminist propaganda.

By Katherine Cecil Thurston
Illustrated by Frank Craig
Harper & Brothers, 1910
1910 bestseller #4
Project Gutenberg EBook #14054
my grade: C

Photo credit: Paris Rooftops by linder6580

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni