Winds of Chance

Why do I keep posting  book recommendations that are for girls only?? It’s a major concern to me right now. I used to think I was just a person . . . but as it turns out, I’m actually a girl. It’s an inextricable part of my being, and it defines what I love in life. I’m sorry, tabula rasa theorists. I was born this way!

That probably also explains why I keep returning to this wine . . . everything is starting to make sense:

Wine conoisseurs, please don’t laugh me off the internet. God made me to like fruity, juice-like wines. This bottle was a gift from my mother-in-law. She also likes girly wines, and for that I am grateful. I don’t stand alone in my shame!

The English author Jeffery Farnol (1878-1952) is one of my guilty pleasures—though it should no longer be “guilty” since we have just established that I was born like this. He is a treasure trove of archaic views, fainting women, over-dramatic scenes, and gender stereotypes. Ah yes, the gender stereotypes. So why do I like him? Well—his novels are incredibly romantic. And somehow that cancels out any reservations that any person of sense could ever bring to the table. Romance conquers all! . . . or was that love? Wait, is there a difference?

His books have it all: duels and boxing matches over a woman. Full lips and drooping lashes. Helpless women and strong men; feisty women and men who put them in their place. But I just love them the way they are! Would they enrage a feminist? Perhaps. The storylines all emphasize that submission to a strong and good man is a beautiful thing. Does the word “submission” make you cringe? Well, a few years ago it made me cringe too. And then something changed (namely, a strong and good man). But that’s another story for another time.

“Winds of Chance” (originally “Winds of Fortune”) is the epitome of everything Farnol represents. It’s the first novel of his that I read, and it got me hooked forever. It was published in 1934, and that alone makes it practically historical—in fact, I don’t know why they didn’t have us read it in history class. Plot summary: a feisty and beautiful woman named Ursula through various contrivances ends up on a pirate ship called The Deliverance. She experiences many stirring adventures on the seas and in the jungles, throughout which time she falls madly in love with Japhet, her abductor. He saves her from villains, looks deeply into her eyes, wields various kinds of weaponry, calls her “wench” at least a dozen times, etc. etc.

Please look at some of these fantastic chapter titles:

Other Farnol favorites of mine are “The Broad Highway” (published in 1910—even more historical!), “The Amateur Gentleman”, “Beltane the Smith”, and “The Money Moon.”

If you’re still not feeling convinced, please read the front of “The Broad Highway”:

“Hee who myne heart would keepe for long

shall be a gentle man and strong.”

I’m already sobbing into my morning java. The good kind of sobbing.

Make a fancy coffee and curl up with “Winds of Chance” over the weekend.

Next week—a more guy-friendly book review. Maybe.

8 thoughts on “Winds of Chance

  1. Jen

    It sounds good! A girly version of Treasure Island! I’ve never heard of Farnol but will check him out for sure. Thanks for the recommendation!

    P.S. Hurray for being girls!

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    I indeed cringe at this idea of submission to a man, and I frown at your perpetuation of gender stereotypes…but I still love you. Personally, I’m all for romance and fruity wines…but that’s because I’m me, not because I have two X chromosomes.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Oui, oui–I knew the word “submission” would raise some hairs, and there are indeed many women out there who enjoy a zestier, good quality wine. Forgive me, women-kind, for generalizing!

      Reply
  3. Sharon

    Ahhhhhh!!!! Just got done this book yesterday. And i’m totally with ya girl. LOVED IT!!!! *sigh* Japhet 😉 Any other suggestions like this??? This was my first Farnol too. :)

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Well there’s always more Farnol (“The Amateur Gentleman,” “Beltane the Smith”). Another one that I love in a similar vein is “The Following of the Star” (don’t remember the author).

      Reply
  4. Julia

    Winds of Chance is completely awesome. I just spent several hours reading it straight through online, here: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000781268 I love that Farnol finally proved he could write convincingly from a woman’s point of view. But my favourite writer of swashbuckling romances is still Rafael Sabatini.

    The Following of the Star is a Christian romance by the English novelist Florence Barclay: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007685506 If you liked that one you should definitely read The Rosary, her top-selling book, about a beauty-loving painter who unexpectedly sets himself to woo and win “the plainest woman of his acquaintance”; and my favourite, The White Ladies of Worcester, about a knight who comes back from the Crusades to find that his betrothed has been tricked into entering a convent.

    I think all of Barclay’s books are public domain now, but like Farnol’s and Sabatini’s, not all have been digitized.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *