5 hidden *FREE* gems of vintage romance

Thanks to the digitisation of old and out-of-print books, it’s possible to discover some absolute treasures on Gutenberg or The Internet Archive, sadly forgotten for half a century or more. Here are 5 of my favourites.

7544679A Houseful of Girls

This lovely novel by Mrs George De Horne Vaizey is rather like an Edwardian Pride & Prejudice. Six sisters are excited when new neighbours move in, with one of the least likely sisters scoring the Big Romance. There are some incredibly funny scenes in this book, as well as some heart-wrenching moments. Gutenberg link


2089443Bab, a Sub-Deb

Bab is a marvellous character, created by Mary Roberts Rinehart. The youngest daughter of a rich American family, and slightly too young to be a debutante, she invents romances for herself and ends up in endless scrapes, largely due to her own attractiveness to various men. Several films were made in the 1920s but were sadly lost.  Gutenberg link


Book CoverThe Career of Katherine Bush

Elinor Glyn wrote many near-scandalous, melodramatic novels in the early 20th century, some of which were made into films, including this one (though it’s sadly lost). Katherine Bush is a lower middle class English girl who manages to turn herself into a “lady” through hard work and study, and eventually marries a duke. Gutenberg link


Harum Scarum: The Story of a Wild Girl

This the first in a trilogy by Esmè Stuart, aka Amélie Claire Leroy, about a wild Australian girl who goes to live with aristocratic English relations. Incredibly funny in places, the romance element enters with the second novel, Harum Scarum’s Fortune, ending with Harum Scarum Married. The books sometimes have different titles. Archive.org link


17969305Take Me With You

Mary Burchell was a prolific writer, and has some lovely “Cinderella romances” with poor orphan girls being romanced by rich, wordly and wonderful men. This is a particularly fun one, partly because although the coincidences become increasingly absurd by the end, the characters are so engaging that you won’t care. OpenLibrary link