I'm just finishing reading Debra Brown's The Companion of Lady Holmeshire, and if the title seems a bit old fashioned, a survival from the 19th century, it's not without reason. And a very happy discovery it is for me that such a work, elegant in its manners, thoroughly original and not an imitation of Jane Austen, is finding great popularity among readers.
Those who crave explicit sex and violence can look somewhere else. Perhaps the greeting "The Companion" is receiving suggests a weariness with those tawdry subjects and, along with the wave of Austen enthusiasm, a rising yearning for visions of virtue set amid exquisite manners and sensibilities.
Those interested in the history of literature and theater will find delight here too, with echoes back to Cinderella, or further back to Roman comedy with a lost child and a ring.
But breathtakingly, joyfully, what we are treated to is the perfect book for an operetta. Oh for music by Franz Lehar! Those who don't love "The Student Prince," "The Merry Widow," "The Land of Smiles" need not apply. But for those, like me, who long for more sweetness and innocence in our entertainments, I wait eagerly for Brown's next book.