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The titular Silas is the uncle of our heroine Maud Ruthyn, who becomes the ward of her mysterious uncle upon her father's death. Silas has an unsavory reputation, having once been accused of murdering a man to whom he owed a gambling debt, but he has, by the time Maud first meets him, apparently repented and found religion. She goes to his home willingly, quickly befriends his saucy daughter Milly and is, for the most part, happy in her new surroundings. The plot thickens from there, and without giving away important details, the reader should know that LeFanu lets loose with a ripping good story that ends most satisfactorily and with some wonderful twists.
LeFanu is a skilled writer at the apex of his powers and an astute observer of the human condition. Some of the more telling lines exhibiting his gifts include:
" . . . that lady has a certain spirit of opposition within her, and to disclose a small wish of any sort was generally, if it lay in her power, to prevent its accomplishment."
"Already I was sorry to lose him. So soon we begin to make a property of what pleases us."
"People grow to be friends by liking, Madame, and liking comes of itself, not by bargain."
"She had received a note from Papa. He had had the impudence to forgive HER for HIS impertinence."
"In very early youth, we do not appreciate the restraints which act upon malignity, or know how effectually fear protects us where conscience is wanting."
"One of the terrible dislocations of our habits of mind respecting the dead is that our earthly future is robbed of them, and we thrown exclusively upon retrospect."
" 'The world,' he resumed after a short pause, 'has no faith in any man's conversion; it never forgets what he was, it never believes him anything better, it is an inexorable and stupid judge.' "
" . . . I had felt, in the whirl and horror of my mind, on the very point of submitting, just as nervous people are said to throw themselves over precipices through sheer dread of falling."
Admirers of Wilkie Collins, Thomas Hardy and, to a lesser degree, of Charles Dickens will find much to please them in the classic "Uncle Silas."
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I'm now interested in knowing if anyone is working on a John Adams Memorial comparable to the Washington and Jefferson memorials in D.C. Why is he ignored? How about putting him on some of our money???
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