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The Dolly Dialogues by Anthony Hope
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The Dolly Dialogues

by Anthony Hope

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The British writer Anthony Hope (1863- 1933) is remembered today for his great adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda. Prior to the success of that novel, he worked as a barrister while trying to establish himself as a writer. In the 1890s, he published a series of sketches in the Westminster Gazette. In 1894, these were collected together in book form as The Dolly Dialogues.

The 24 chapters (or sketches) are light-hearted social comedy that give the contemporary reader a perspective of upper class English society in the late Victorian period. The narrator, Mr. Samuel Carter, is a bachelor who carries a torch for a woman named "Dolly" with whom he once shared affections. Dolly marries Lord Archie Mickleham, a man deemed more suitable by virtue of his social position and wealth. The chapters trace the formal friendship between Carter and Dolly from before her engagement to years into her marriage. Each consists of conversations and light interactions between Carter and Dolly or others of her circle of family and acquaintances. The repartee is quick, sparkling, and clever, full of mild flirtation, epigrams, and double entendre. The tone is gently satirical, and the content superficial and mildly amusing. However, a touch of pathos suffuses the whole. Carter remains single as the ladies of his acquaintance marry and have families, and by the penultimate chapter he is feeling the press of a solitary middle age. The last sketch is a peculiar one -- he has a dream in which has he died and finds himself in a waiting room to the Elysian Fields -- into which he gains entrance, along with Dolly and of course, her ever- present husband.

In truth, The Dolly Dialogues will be unlikely to attract more than an occasional contemporary reader, and are mainly of historical interest. Nonetheless, I enjoyed them, found them amusing, subtle, and clever, and deeper than a first impression might have suggested. Public domain copies are available online at no cost. For a more professional review than I can offer, see the link here: http://www.unz.org/Pub/BookmanUK-1894sep-00181a02?View=PDF ( )
3 vote danielx | Jun 5, 2012 |
Light, amusing conversations in short chapters between a well-to-do bachelor and the lady friends of his social circle in pre-World War I London. The lower classes don't intrude.
By the author of "The Prisoner of Zenda". ( )
  gibbon | Aug 26, 2008 |
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The flirtatious relationship between bachelor Sam Carter and the vivacious beauty Dorothea Dolly" Foster takes them from Monte Carlo to London. When Dolly marries a wealthy lord, Sam feigns indifference but they both know the truth. Enormously popular when published, this novel is an insightful look into the social mores of the fashionable late-Victorian scene.… (more)

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