I first learned of A Weaver of Dreams by Myrtle Reed (McCullough) through my friend Veronica. She had been given a copy by her grandmother and fell in love with the turn-of-the-century (1911) romance. Based upon her recommendation alone, knowing nothing else of book or author, I tracked down a copy to read in time for Valentine's Day, as mentioned in my recent Friday Finds post.
As the novel opens, young and very beautiful Margery Gordon has recently been orphaned after the death of her father and has just arrived in a small country town to live with Martin Chandler, a middle-aged wheel-chair bound friend of her father. Very shortly after her arrival Margery meets Judith Sylvester, a neighbor who comes to her rescue and the two become fast friends. It is then through Judith that Margery becomes acquainted with Miss Cynthia Bancroft, Judith's middle-aged crippled aunt, and Carter Keith, Judith's dashing and devoted fiance. What begins for Margery as a quiet and simple life quickly becomes complicated and soon the reader is swept up in a tale of mysterious pasts and difficult matters of the heart. It is a bittersweet tale of love lost and love found.
A Weaver of Dreams might be categorized as "Edwardian chick lit," but unlike modern chick-lit, it is contains more than the warm-fuzzy scenes. It is not on par with classics by Dickens or Austen, but Reed's dialog is witty and cynical and her prose influential. Valuable lessons in honesty, loyalty, and sacrificial love are woven into the story, yet without sermonizing the reader or detracting from the entertainment factor of the novel.
I find it fascinating that while I'd never heard of Myrtle Reed (McCullough), at the turn of the last century she was a best selling author of over 30 books, including a series of cook books under the pseudonym Olive Green. While Reed dabbled in writing poetry and articles for newspapers she became best known for her stories of romance. It is sad though, that after writing such popular stories of love and happily-ever-after endings she didn't have one herself. To learn more about Mrs. McCullough please see the note at the end of this post.
On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate A Weaver of Dreams a 4. Overall I really enjoyed this novel. I am definitely interested in reading more of Reeds works and encourage fans of chick-lit, romance, or older books in general to be on the lookout for A Weaver of Dreams or other books by Reed. Because all of her works are out of print it may prove hard to find them, but on the other hand because she is fairly unknown used copies should prove relatively inexpensive and may be available at used book stores, library book sales, and online.
Note: For those curious you can find more information about Myrtle Reed (McCullough)'s life and works at Online-Literature and in a 2006 Chicago Mag article. Also a full listing of all her published works can be found at Wikipedia. Two of her more famous works, Lavender and Old Lace (1902) and A Spinner in the Sun (1906) can be read online. And last, excerpts from her cook books can be found at Chest of Books.