Rollo in Switzerland (Jacob Abbot, 1858)

Uncle George intends on going on a three week tour of Switzerland and asks Rollo to join him, which he happily does. Sister Jane stays with the parents in Paris while father still recuperates from his injury. (What is this injury and how much longer is it going to last?) They travel upon the lakes, atop the glaciers, and across mountain passes. A good portion of the book is devoted to Jungfrau — which they don’t climb, of course, but they do make a two-day outing of climbing one of the foothills to get a spectacular view of it. They get to see and hear and avalanche on the great mountain. In the end, they make their way to the Rhine to book passage back to Paris and Rollo’s parents.

Inscription: With the same stamp most of my Rollo books are stamped with, “Roy A. Evans”, on the front flyleaf. Above it, with a smaller but more decorative stamp, it says “Roy Evans, Alfred, Maine”.

Rollo in Rome (Jacob Abbot, 1858)

Rollo and his uncle George continue their tour of Europe. Set during the tumultuous Italian unification, like Rollo on the Rhine the land they travel through doesn’t exist anymore. Much is made of the travel itself — particularly as they cross from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies into the Papal States — about the borders, the checkpoints, inspections, and passports. George explains how the government says its to prevent criminals from escaping justice, but really it’s because the government doesn’t represent the people and restricting their movement stops them from being overthrown.

Also fascinating to me are how few people there are. They visit the Vatican museum to see the statuary and there’s thirteen people there. I’ve been there, too, but there were several hundred times that number when I went.

Inscriptions: stamped “Roy A. Evans” in purple ink on the front flyleaf.

Rollo on the Rhine (Jacob Abbot, 1858)

Twelve year old Rollo travels down the Rhine with his uncle George. This directly follows Rollo in Switzerland, which I have and should probably have read first, and continues the adventures of Rollo and Jane in Europe that started with Rollo on the Atlantic. Jane isn’t in evidence in this story, though. She’s referred to once and Rollo writes her a letter (about observing drunken students stumbling down the road and injuring themselves), but where she is, I don’t know.

To a modern reader, the greatest interest lies in that the Germany described simply doesn’t exist anymore. For one, they’re not traveling in Germany, they’re traveling in a myriad German-speaking petty duchies and principalities. Two, all the sites of interest they visit were destroyed in WWII with the exception of Cologne Cathedral. Three, even the Cologne Cathedral they visit isn’t there anymore — they saw it after it was left unfinished and stood a virtual ruin for 400 years. Work had just resumed and it would be another twenty or thirty years after this book was written before it was completed.

Inscriptions: stamped “Roy A. Evans.” on the front flyleaf.

What Will He Do With It? (Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1858)

As I was reaching the end of this book, I began to get worried. How was I going to summarize this? What will I do with it?* It’s easy to boil down an action-based plot, but in terms of pure action, almost nothing happens here. Near all of the novel is devoted to character study and to a rumination on the concept of pride. Further complicating summary, what does happen, happens non-linearly. And further still, when I say “book”, what I mean to say is twelve books — What Will He Do With It? is a very long work.

In the barest outline, Guy Darrell wants to restore his family’s fallen name. His only heir, a distant cousin named Lionel Haughton, is in love with Sophy Waife, the granddaughter of a mysterious traveling performer. It comes out that her grandfather is the convicted felon William Losely and that Sophy may be the child of Darrell’s estranged daughter Matilda — both damning in Darrell’s eye. Darrell struggles to overcome his pride for the sake for Lionel’s happiness.

Those few lines don’t scratch the surface of What Will He Do With It?, but it was either write that, or write page after page on the book’s several dozen characters and how they intersect.

* Yes, Bulwer-Lytton does that many, many, many times throughout the narrative, small caps and all