The Passionate Crime (E. Temple Thurston, 1915)

Anthony Sorel is a poet who lives in a remote cabin in the mountains of southern Ireland. He traveled there some years ago in an attempt to purify himself — to make his soul as simple as those of the native inhabitants. He has a theory that the faeries of Irish folklore are real — not in a literal sense, but rather the faeries one sees are a manifestation of one’s own emotion.

Anna Quartermaine is one of the natives, but not of the simple peasant class Anthony idolizes. She’s wealthy, well traveled, and anglicized. She’s loved by all men and she enjoys all men’s attention, but it’s not until Anthony arrives that she finds herself in love. Malachi, Anthony closest friend, warns him of the dangers women pose to poets. Anthony is at once smitten by Anna, but he tries to break away, at last deciding to leave the village and seek a new hermitage elsewhere.

The night before his departure, Anthony is visited by what he takes to be a faery in the guise of Anna, who beckons him to stay and love her. His resistance spent, he gives in. In the morning, Anthony discovers that the spirit actually was Anna. Disgusted at the loss of his ideal, he stabs her to death with a kitchen knife.

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Grand Canary (A.J. Cronin, 1933)

Dr. Harvey Leith has recently been disgraced for causing the death of three patients. Though it was hardly his fault, those in charge at the hospital, out of distaste for him personally and for his continually rocking the boat, have made him the scapegoat. He turns to drink. A friend arranges for a little cruise to the Canary Islands for him to get away from the scandal for a while and to sober up. Aboard ship, he meets Mary Fielding, who’s also on a vacation, but she’s escaping from the luxurious but suffocating life she leads at her wealthy husband’s manor.

A yellow fever epidemic has broken out on the islands. By the time they arrive, the worst has passed, but Harvey still offers his assistance. Mary is bitten by an infected mosquito and becomes deathly ill. Harvey, who has fallen in love with Mary and likewise she with him, makes it his mission to cure her.

Her Last Lover (Celia E. Gardner, 1893)

I don’t really know what I just read. It started out as your standard love triangle romance, and then…

A long time ago, in the kingdom ruled by Hasisadra, Zillah is one of the royal handmaids. An accident occurs in which she is nearly killed, but Zaidu, a mountain shepherd or something like that, rescues her. The King, as a reward, makes him his shield bearer. Etana, the royal chamberlain, is in love with Zillah and jealous of the attention she shows to Zaidu. He conspires to do away with his rival, but all his plots fail. Eventually, he’s exposed and is executed.

The story seems to have ended earlier than scheduled, but then Zillah meets a new guy — Ramiel — who turns out not to be a guy at all, but an angel. And Zaidu, as it so happens, is a relative of Noah, who has just about put the finishing touches on his ark. From their respective connections, they learn to abandon their former god Ud in favor of Jehovah.

Thunder and lightening! Earthquake! Torrents of rain fall from the sky! Zaidu and Zillah are separated. Zillah and the rest of the royal family scramble up the mountainside to escape the rising water, but one by one they’re picked off until only Zillah is left (Ramiel also appears to announce that he’s being recalled to Heaven). Zaidu miraculously finds Zillah and they hole up together in a cave for a few days, apparently the last people on Earth. And then they die.

I assume the title comes from the Robert Bulwer-Lytton poem Naeniae: “Thy being was but beauty, thy life only rapture, / And, ere both were over, / Or yet one delight had escaped from thy capture, / Death came, — thy last lover, / And found thee”.

David Harum (Edward Noyes Westcott, 1898)

On a steamer, returning from Europe, John Lenox finds himself seated next to Mary Blake. They haven’t seen each other since childhood, but John is quickly enamored by Mary. The acquaintance continues once they reach New York and John’s affection grows, but he knows that he’s in no position to propose: John’s father has recently died and the estate John inherited was not quite what he anticipated. Compared to Mary’s wealth, John is a pauper.

After an abortive apprenticeship at a law office, John takes a cashier job offered by David Harum. David is a banker and horse dealer in Homeville, a small but rapidly growing town in upstate New York. Though quite successful now, he came from nothing — running away from his abusive home as a child with only a dime to his name. David has a reputation for being shrewd and not entirely honest, but the interest  David takes in John is genuine, and after a while, the two grow to be great friends.

John has built up a small savings after five years at work, which, by David’s advice, he has invested wisely. To use David’s words, John’s present wealth, if not great, is at least “consid’able”. John has made partner at the bank and David intends for him to take ownership once he retires.

One winter, John takes seriously ill. The doctor advises him to travel to a warm, dry climate to recuperate, which, under David’s insistence, he reluctantly agrees to do. Aboard the ship to Italy, John runs into Mary again. They haven’t met since John went to Homeville, and events and accidents had transpired that prevented them even from writing to one another. Mary appears to be married — at least, that’s John’s impression — and so, safe in defeat, John is fearless enough to declare his love. But John is mistaken: Mary is not married and she loves John as well. Further, she’s not unwilling to give life in Homeville a try.