The Girl of the Mountains. by PARSONS, Eliza (1739-1811).

by the author of TWO of the horrid novels
PARSONS, Eliza (1739-1811).

The Girl of the Mountains. A Novel, in four volumes, by Mrs. Parsons, Author of Women as They Are, &c. Vol. I [-II]. London, William Lane at the Minerva Press, 1797.

First Edition. Four volumes, 12mo (165 x 102 mm), pp. [ii], 279; [ii], 282; [ii], 288; [ii], 273, [3] ‘Minerva Publications’,
small marginal tear with loss I, 269 (not near text),
in contemporary half calf over rather rubbed marbled boards, flat spines ruled and numbered in gilt with the Downshire monogram gilt in each upper compartment, only one black morocco label (of four) present, lettered in gilt, headcaps a little chipped and some wear to bindings, with the ownership inscription of ‘M. Downshire’ on B1 of each volume and the title-page of volume one.

A scarce and highly sentimental Gothic novel by Eliza Parsons, author of two of Jane Austen’s ‘horrid novels’, the seven gothic novels recommended to Catherine Morland by Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey. The two novels are The Castle of Wolfenbach, 1793 - the first novel in Isabella’s list and probably the most reprinted since - and Mysterious Warnings, published in 1796, the year before the present work.
The Girl of the Mountains is set in a desolate region of France where the eponymous heroine, Adelaide, is raised by her impoverished but noble father after the death of her mother. One day wandering about the mountains, her father is attacked by three bandits, but he is saved at the last moment due to the repentance of one of the bandits, whose bearing and manners suggest a noble birth and a mysterious past. The consequences of the meeting are disastrous for Adelaide, who finds herself forced into an adventure that leads her to Spain and encounters with flirtatious Dons, gallant Governors, a monk that had been in the service of Louis XII and a bossy Baroness and at the centre of the whole tale: an ancient manuscript and a mystery waiting to be revealed.
The three final leaves of advertisements for ‘Minerva Publications’ advertise just two novels: Count St. Blanchard, quoting the lengthy and largely positive piece in the Critical Review, and The Pavilion, quoting the review from the British Critic. This is a far cry from the traditional listing of multiple titles available and is an enlightened form of advertising, drawing the reader in to both novels.
A Dublin edition followed in 1798, published by P. Byrne and a Philadelphia edition, by John Bioren and David Hogan, was published in 1801. The dedication of this first edition is to Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester.

Garside, Raven & Schöwerling 1797:61; Blakey, p. 181; Summers, Gothic Bibliography, p. 340; Summers, The Gothic Quest, p. 170; Dale Spender, Mothers of the Novel, p. 131; not in Hardy (which lists three other novels by Parsons).

ESTC t139127, listing BL, Bristol, Czartoryski Library; Harvard, Virginia & Wayne State.

Keywords: English Literature
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