Tales of Other Days / by J.Y.A.

Tales of Other Days / by J.Y.A. - John Yonge Akerman This volume is truly the product of an antiquarian. It consists of 12 stories in the form of "This bizarre thing happened. Full stop." Except that they are somewhat longer, I would relate them to those collections of anecdotes I have on my shelves - oddities that exist in and of themselves, to be examined and clucked over, but not with any real sense of conclusion or meaning, or (in the case of the stories) narrative shape. Some of them, indeed, approach the shaggy dog story - the first one, for instance, is a story of a devil's contract that, it turns out, was all a drunken dream. Others may be recasting into fictional form (that is, with a little bit of dialogue and local colour) of actual events in local history; I suspect that is the case with the otherwise rather unedifying story of a young woman and her cavalier lover who returns from King Charles' exile, only to be discovered in his secret hiding place and executed/murdered by the Roundheads. There's a fairly long fictionalization of the events leading up to the foiled gunpowder plot of November 5. Women are routinely inserted into the narratives, but only as victims or emotional mirrors.

For a history buff of the early nineteenth century, I imagine this would have been an amusing read; light reading for males at a time when fiction still needed a patina of history to be at all acceptable to that gender.