A guide to the best free and inexpensive classic literature for the Kindle. Some conversions are sloppily done, so a free download can be a waste of time. I highlight books that are out of copyright, but never out of style! Most are from before 1923. I link to US & UK editions.
I’m now dipping between two books (one of the good features of the Kindle): Phoebe Deane by Grace Livingston Hill and Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart.
I’d never heard of Grace Livingston Hill but she was obviously once a very popular novelist and well known in the US. There’s a list of her books showing covers of some here. Do look at the facsimile dustwrappers available! Phoebe Deane is one of those beautiful put-upon girls. She’s an orphan living with her kindly half-brother and his harridan of a wife, who acts the wicked stepmother. Poor Phoebe is a real Cinderella, forced to work all day long for her keep but retaining the natural refinement and elegance she’s inherited from her mother. Nasty sister-in-law is plotting to marry her off to a prosperous but oafish farming neighbour, an idea which fills Phoebe with horror. On her eighteenth birthday she shows some gumption for once, leaves her chores and goes for a walk. She meets a perfect gentleman (see illustration!) who is kind to her. Unfortunately, nasty neighbour sees her with him and is obviously plotting some horrid revenge. That’s as far as I’ve got and even though I find the heroine too feeble for words, I’m interested enough to go on with the book. There’s a touch of Kilmeny of the Orchard about it, or maybe something by Gene Stratton Porter.
The other book is so surprising that at first I thought it must be fiction but no, you can read more about Elinore Pruitt Stewart’s extraordinary life here. Widowed, with a two year old daughter, she goes west, stakes a land claim on her own behalf, and lives in the back of beyond, sixty miles from the railroad. Although she’s working for someone else for a while, she takes off when she feels like it, with baby, for a camp out, rejoicing in the scenery and the freedom. Nothing at all seems to frighten her and I’m agog to see what she’ll get up to next.