Mademoiselle Ixe by Mary Elizabeth Hawker (1890)

Secretive, overqualified characters are always my favorites. When best executed these characters have all the skills and none of the motivation. They are thrust by extreme circumstances to show some of their vast knowledge. With these characters a sense an increased depth lingers over every thought and movement which is exciting alongside an overbearing humility and modesty. I envy these qualities in others because I am neither deep nor mysterious. It is easy to revere heroes in fiction. Much easier than real life as fictional heroes are much less likely to let one down. There is a lone ranger quality of the person of the world, the jack of all trades, the renaissance man. Even classic western stories have mysterious characters whose reactions become more logical as there backstory slowly unravels. What makes this character archetype so entrancing?

Mademoiselle Ixe’s task as the new governess is to keep the children in order, teach them, care for their wants and generally keep them happy. The small town in the English countryside is unsure of Ms. Ixe. She is clearly foreign but her country of origin is unclear. Even more disturbing is that she may not even be Christian. Unclear religious affiliations aside she fits into the family like an old worn baseball mitt. She instantly makes a connection with each troublesome child. Harsh during their lessons and friendly in leisure time she instantly becomes a favorite. She also has a weird knack for indirectly getting her way. When confronted with questions about her religious leanings, she innocently asks wether the Anglican Church has the religious mandate. An argument among amateur religious scholars breaks out and she is not forced to answer the original question. The original askers have completely forgotten. The eldest daughter wonders to herself. Who is Mademoiselle Ixe?


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Strange Case of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

I don’t know why I’m surprised when I love a classic. I should probably expect it. This small book was big time resulting in the phrase-“jekell and hyde” meaning a person with varying moral character. The moral separation of self is a concept I don’t believe in personally. The good, the bad and the ugly must be accepted as parts of yourself. Maybe that is an excuse I use after some new inexplicable evil committed at my hands. All in all I find it puzzling people can define themselves according to their best qualities instead of a smattering of good and evil. That would seem the difference between painting entirely with one color and using the entire color palette.

In this book, you meet the friends and acquaintances of one Dr. Henry Jekell who has been acting strangely of late. He has been keeping dangerous friends and staying out at odd hours. What could compel him to change his habits in this way? Two of Dr. Jekell’s oldest friends find themselves wrapped up in this dark mystery. Ponder the ways of good and evil by reading the Strange Case of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde.


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The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe (1841)

After much unreasonable waiting, I’ve finally absorbed one of the first modern detective stories. The murderous adventure and analytical characters hold up quite well through all these years. What a different place the world was in 1841? How Poe came up with this murder is beyond me? The ending still comes out of left field. If you enjoyed this story, take a look inside The Confessions of Arsene Lupin for a fitting tribute.

C. Auguste Dupin is a man possessing great analytical skill. Through small clues and conjecture he can almost read minds. In the time honored tradition you follow this quick thinking french man as he attempts to solve The Murders in the Rue Morgue.


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Rock Crystal by Adalbert Stifter (1845)

Step inside an enchanting, cinematic winter tale. This short story follows two children on Christmas Eve as they travel to grandma’s house. They hike through the beautifully lush mountains for a delicious dinner and a little holiday surprise. Grab a candy cane, warm up the hot cocoa, and read Rock Crystal.


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The Calico Cat by Charles Miner Thompson(1908)

Sometimes a character gets stuck in the mud. Every time they try to get out of trouble they accidentally jump head first deeper and deeper into trouble. This funny little story perfectly illustrates that very situation.

Solomon is excited about his new post on the local grand jury. Here is a job that could in his opinion propel him into a prominent political office. A moment of anger gets him stuck in the mud and he spends the rest of the story trying to leap out of it to no avail. Here’s some advice. Try not to get provoked by The Calico Cat.


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Security by Poul Anderson(1953)

A novel, short novel that takes a thought provoking stance on world peace and universal governance. You follow a high ranking physicist who works for and is closely monitored by the government. I wish I could say more but I don’t have the security clearance. To gain access please read manual entitled Security.

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The World That Couldn’t Be by Clifford D. Simak(1958)

Gavin Duncan doesn’t care why this planet works. As a farmer his cares circle mainly around his crops, food and money. So when a pest rolls through his farm in the early morning hours and destroys a row of crops, he decides to hunt it. All the locals are against this course of action. The Cytha didn’t mean to do any harm, they say. Just ignore it for now. But Gavin is stuck in his ways. Pests that eat your crops or damage your fields must be hunted and killed. His journey illuminates the true nature of the planet Layard and the creatures that call it home. Grab a jacket and a plane ticket to The World That Couldn’t Be.

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