Straitlaced Saturday — Elusive Isabel

Saturday, February 16, 2019 

victorian novels

Straitlaced Saturday and the Victorian Novels feature is finally back.  It complements the era of my steampunk serial, Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers. 

With these posts, I’ll give you some information about novels written in the Victorian Era of the real world, along with a link where you can get the book for free!

Elusive Isabel

This week’s novel from the Victorian Era is Elusive Isabel, by Jacques Futrelle.  I’ll be surprised if you’ve heard of it.  It was not an important novel in its day.  Far from it, the book was considered trivial.

So what?  I had fun with it.  It could be entertaining to re-imagine this as a steampunk story.  Why? Bear with me — I’ll get to that.  I read this book a number of years ago.  No, it’s not a fantastic book, but it’s not bad either.  In fact, I had a great time reading it.

elusive isabel illustration
Illustration from Elusive Isabel

Why did I enjoy myself?  The story is set in Washington, DC and nearby Alexandria, Virginia.  The author mentions real world places and establishments. It was fascinating to read a Victorian perspective on those places, transportation, and distance, comparing it as, to the here and now, as I rode through some of those locations on a shuttle bus.

A Spy Novel

When I started reading this book, I had no idea that the Victorians were as enamored of spy stories as we are today.  Elusive Isabel is a spy novel!  That’s why I thought it would be fun to re-imagine it as a steampunk story.  There’s an inventor, a secret weapon… those things just screams for steampunk.

In addition to being intrigued by how the locations had changed since the book was written, there was something else that made it fun for me.  Futrelle touched on the “secret” language of fans.  In the novel, Isabel uses the language of fans, and she all but bewitches the hero with it.   Otherwise the plot is pretty much standard spy novel fare. 

elusive isabel illustration stand off
Illustration from Elusive Isabel

This is an enjoyable book if you’re in the mood for something that you don’t want to take too seriously.  It’s entertaining if you let it be fun — and set your expectations accordingly.

Project Gutenburg Link to Elusive Isabel

If you want the book and have trouble accessing it, let me know and I’ll send you a file.

What do you think about the idea of the hidebound Victorians enjoying a spy novel?  Please leave a comment and start or join a conversation. 


Some of you have asked for updates on my personal soap opera — relocating.  I’m single-handedly doing all the planning, logistics, and particularly the physical work is a lot for anybody.  Then add my personal, peculiar disabilities, and it is 99% impossible. 

I haven’t blogged about that problem, but you may have seen me mention it in comments this year.  Anyhow, I’m striving for that one percent of possibility.  Now I’m trying to prepare posts in advance, so that I don’t leave you dangling from any cliffs while I’m deep in the throes of being severely agoraphobic in the middle of a cross-country move.  I can tell you — it ain’t pretty!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers continues on Hidebound Hump Day.  My chuckaboos, I’ll be looking for you at the steampunk submarine port on Wednesday.


Now some shameless self-promotion. 

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

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USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.


79 thoughts on “Straitlaced Saturday — Elusive Isabel

  1. I’m not really surprised about Victorians enjoying mysteries as I figured the stories of Sherlock Holmes were extremely popular and many of those readers must have been women. When he was killed it was probably the women who kept after their husbands/fathers to complain and get him back again. One of my great aunts used to read Victorian romances. She was supposed to be babysitting my dad and he complained to her she was supposed to be entertaining him. It was a funny story passed down through the family. I”m looking forward to your Roaring Twenties stories again. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are good points, Suzanne.
      You’re so kind about the stories. I had hoped to publish the third of Pip’s flapper adventures at the first of the year. It’s almost finished with edits and proofing. However, my moving preparations have derailed all intentions. Hopefully soon. 🙂 Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A spy novel written so long ago – guess I just never thought about it. It would be perfect for a steampunk rewrite!. You’ve got this move, Teagan – and swing by Bowling Green, KY and visit if you have a chance!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, Teri. It would be so cool to see you. With all the bad weather we keep getting, I’ll probably head farther south before going across.
      “Isabel Goes Steampunk”? The thought makes me think of the old Wild Wild West TV show.

      Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a book you might enjoy, although it is from the WWII era : The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy by Peter Sichel

    Wishing you an easy and pleasant move to New Mexico, Teagan and Crystal

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Deborah. I’m definitely calling all angels! 😀
      My method of moving has changed so many times…I had settled on my low cost, but very complicated way. Then out of the blue, the mover I would like to have used (a “dedicated,” flat rate mover) — trouble was, he was crazy expensive. (With regular movers, I would be sharing a truck with three other households [and my stuff and piano being off-loaded and reloaded several times along the way…] and all the potential for being ripped off again like on the way here.)
      Anyhow the guy I liked called and offered to cut his price by more than half! (If he could combine my stuff with his sister’s.) I’d still be spending a few extra hundred dollars of my savings, but that is so much more comfortable!

      I hope your own moving preparations are going well. Any idea when you’ll be heading to the new digs?

      Hugs on the wing. ❤

      1. There’s a lot snow with chains required and ours just came in so, we’ve not been over to the house in weeks. Packing is slow going. I’ve been going to Baby Girl’s every week and I still need to get boxes.

        He-Man isn’t as motivated as I wish he was. I hope by the end of spring to be there!

        We’re thinking about using PODS for our move and schedule them one after the other so we can unload, unpack, have the next one arrive. I wouldn’t want to share a truck and have my piano, and stuff off loaded then put back on either. Lots of potential for loss and breakage there!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The weather is an even bigger factor where you are. I’m glad you’re waiting for the end of spring. Pods are highly recommended. There is street parking where I live, and my dozen stairs outside, and they wouldn’t coordinate any labor in NM, so they were out of the question for me. If you’re able to load and unload, they sound great.
          Being on our own timetables helps us both. Although I need to get on out of here. Another month of rent is wasting my savings. Still, I’ve had a good deal of time to work on it and I’m grateful for that. LOL, even my toe muscles are sore today. (From holding up heavy things with my foot so I can get packing material around them.) 😉


  4. Teagan – thank you for the interesting read, as always. The spy book is worth checking out too.
    You are moving soon, and I hope the move goes smoothly and your new place is welcoming and fantastic, like your Atonement. Best of luck, and hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Inesse. Thanks so very much! My new town scored high on the quirky factor, one of the reasons why I chose it. LOL, although it shouldn’t be the same kind of quirky as Atonement, TN. I think I will be happy and content there — If I can manage to get my severely agoraphobic self there…
      Have a terrific Tuesday. Mega hugs right back.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Teagan – I know one town that fits this description, and I hope it is where you are moving. I wish you courage and good humor ❤ When you settle you will love it and feel comfortable since you are familiar with the area. Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks so much Inese. I wish I were able to keep up with everyone’s blogs during this time. I need to visit your wonderful place.
          Yes, I’m sure I will love it. 🙂 I doubt you have heard of this small town. People are familiar with Santa Fe or Taos (which I think you might mean), but I’ll be in the southern third of the state. Not all the way toward the border (like Las Cruces), but much farther south than Santa Fe and Taos.
          Hugs on the wing.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Teagan, thank you for telling me about Elusive Isabel. Sounds neat. I just never think of the Victorian Age in America, but I suppose we had one too.

    Were we ever to meet and sit down and talk, you would find that your life and mine are alike in more ways than you might expect. I wish you well in yours and am very hopeful that recent changes in it will be good for you.

    I’m finding that I am publishing blogs much less often than I used to. Publishing them can be such a fuss, and I ofetn wonder why I’m publishing them at all. But every week there is Teagan with her spirited offering, cheerful and clever.

    Fonest wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to see you, David. Heartfelt thanks for your kind thoughts and encouragement. I’m happy that you are a kindred spirit.

      Your posts are so very worthwhile, astute, entertaining, and useful. I enjoy your blog very much, and based on the marvelous comment threads there, many other people value it as well. That’s what keeps me blogging.

      Yes, blogging really is a fuss — that’s the best description, particularly when we want to make every aspect perfect. Plus, WordPress goes and makes it even harder, with legions of gremlins, and repeated lack of notifications. I finally gave up trying to get notifications of the blogs I want to read, after redoing everything so many times. I’m sad that I can’t keep up with everyone. Then I’m disheartened when commenters disappear, just as I’ve probably disappeared from their blogs.

      Have a wonder-filled new week. Great big hug!


      1. Teagan, I don’t know if after reading about my doubts about blogging you meant to encourage me to go on with it and not quit, but that was the effect of your compliments. And feeling that that was what you intended made me feel doubly good.

        Your post reminded of something. Years ago I was at a museum in Chicago.. Turning into a gallery there suddenly appeared before me–three feet away– a clear, life-sized photograph of what surely was a lovely, beautiful-dressed Victorian woman at the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. She moved me and I fell in love with her, so at home I wrote to her:

        Lady at the Fair

        I saw that life-size photograph of you
        Turning a corner
        Carrying a parasol
        In the rain
        At the World’s Fair
        A century ago.

        What do you mean to me?
        What do your long lace gloves,
        Flowing gown,
        Plumed hat,
        Pleasing face,
        And Modigliani eyes
        Signify to me?
        Why does the memory of you now
        Move me and puzzle me so hauntingly?

        Why do I feel such
        Affection for you
        And wish I too at that moment
        Were turning that corner
        Under those rain clouds
        Onto the fairway
        With you close to me
        That day a century ago?


        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi, David. I’m so glad to hear that. When it comes to blogging, I know the difficulties so well — and I understand that not everyone “gets back” from it. I guess I’m trying to say that I tread a fine line when people express their frustration with blogging, even when I hope they will continue. Your writing lifts others, and the world needs that.

          This poem is lovely! You’ve captured one of my favorite ways of seeing the Victorian Era. I’m honored that you shared it here. Might I include it in a future Saturday post?

          Have a peaceful evening, my friend.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks so much for the lovely compliment, Teagan. Even while I’m expressing doubts about blogging, I find my mind somehow working on the next post almost in spite of myself. Yes, of course you may use the poem.I’m honored that you wish to include it in a future post.

            Best wishes to you, Teagan

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Good luck with your move, Teagan being the ultimate of fantasy storytellers put yourself in the story as you travel…I am sure you can and before you know you will be there and what an achievement that will be a story like no other…Go girl…You can do it! Hugs xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would think that being a spy old school must have been a long slog, evesdropping and no fancy equipment to help out.. that is why femme fatales were so successful, one flash of the decolletage and their mark was a gonna… And Teagan, once this trip is over, like doing a firewalk, nothing will ever seem impossible again. I have every faith in you and your sidekick to bring it home… and what a prize at the end of it. You can do this and in style.. hugsxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true, Sally, about the slow going and no tech. I hadn’t thought about that relating to the femme fatales, but that’s a terrific point. Of course, “fashions” helped them too. A flash of ankle was so risque… now the equivalent is nude selfies! LOL.

      Thanks about the move. I keep praying for angels to come into my life and help Crystal and me get there safely. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, Rob. It’s not outstanding writing, but not bad either. However, the settings were well described, so being in the middle of the contrast between then and now made the book a lot of fun. The parts describing the “secret language of fans” was fun too.
      Have a sublime Sunday. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I hadn’t heard of that novel but it doesn’t surprise me. Anthony Trollope also had a lot of intrigue in his stories. Sorry to hear about your condition. These days I don’t fault anyone for having any phobia!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve recently become hooked on HGTV and their home improvement shows, especially the travel ones. On Caribbean Life and Hawaii Life quite often the homes they show come complete with furniture. If I ever get rich enough, I’m looking into that concept! Imagine doing little more than packing the essentials and leaving the rest behind- yep, that’s my kind of move, lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of those shows are fun and cool.
      A big part of me wishes that I had just packed Crystal and walked away in December, Jacquie. My real estate agent was such a slacker. If she has showed up at the closing the past owner would have given me some furniture. It turned out that he gave it all to a thrift shop. He had no way of knowing I needed things, because my agent was worthless. I have different taste, but a few of the things would have been useful to me. Such is life.
      I’ll buy a few basics. I’ll have to find a part time job before I really furnish. Full time is more than I can deal with. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. my brother (and I should have mentioned him before) who is, frankly, addicted to all things Victoriana would know this I bet. He’s always coming up with weirdy stories of real Victorian inventions – he even did a series of posts on what to find in Mr Darcy’s pocket. Maybe if you had a moment you should pop across to his blog; I suspect he may be able to feed you with the sort of stories you are talking about. This may give you some idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s really great. Really wouldn’t have thoughtm they’d been interested in spy novels in the Victorian period. On the other hand, there has always been a spying. Really wonderful that this is set in an area you know. I don’t have to look for that here. In Victorian times, here only the pastors could read, but they had not written anything. LoL Best wishes for your move, Teagan! Have a beautiful weekend too. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael. I enjoyed hearing your perspective on this. My thoughts were similar to yours. At first I was surprised (by a spy story) then I realized, just from history about various royal families, that yes, there have always been spies.
      A wonder-filled weekend to you my friend. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m not a fan of moving and all that goes with it on many levels. I feel for you and rooting for that one percent! I didn’t know about the spy theme…I find that pretty cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Denise. It helps when someone understands
      Yes, I was surprised by the spy theme. It’s a pretty good book, not great, but worth a read. For me, the great appeal was looking back at all the whats, whens, and hows from the current day. The author did a good job of describing them.
      I appreciate your visit. Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wishing you luck with the move Teagan. I know you’ve wanted to move for a long time so hopefully the pain will be worth it in the end. I always think of spy novels as a 20th Century thing so it’s interesting to hear they were so popular then – and the language of fans is an intriguing addition – a steampunk version of a spy novel sounds right up your writing street 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Andrea. Yes, it will be worth it. It’s just getting there…
      Hmmm… I’ve never thought about writing a spy story. Although at one time I was bouncing an idea around with Rob Goldstein about a steampunk take on the Scarlet Pimpernel. I called my character the Fabulous Fiona Finch, the Pink Pimpernel. It didn’t come together for us to do another story, but maybe I’ll write that one on my own one day. Anyhow, the Scarlet Pimpernel is sort of a spy story.
      I appreciate you visiting and your good wishes. ❤ Mega hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m enjoying your trips into these Victorian novels, Teagan. It’s especially interesting to see how you reenvision them into other genres. And good luck with your preparations. I know you can do this move! And you’ll be successful. You will have all our hugs and good energy carrying you across the country. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I can see why that book appeals to you, it sounds like it has a lot of Teaganthings. I wish you luck as you prepare for and execute this move. Soon enough, it will be behind you and you will be able to take a breath and heave a big sigh of relief. A secret language? You don’t say…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Dan.
      Yes, the language of fans plays a significant part in the novel. I freely admit that I’m clumsy — I can imagine the trouble I’d get into with that! LOL.
      Thanks for taking time to visit. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Teagan, I think about you and the upcoming move. I cannot put myself in your shoes but I feel for you. Do one step at a time , find something that distracts you like an audio book when you drive. Anything that will help. I am not so sure about the Victorian Era, I couldn’t imagine wearing those tight corsets. Hugs , Gerlinde

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I might want to peek at the Victorian era for a few moments, but have no desire to live those times. I am intrigued by the DC setting since I grew up there! I know you have the resources to make this move Teagan. Your courage, creativity, and kindness will find a way. Cooper, Felicity, the alchemist, and I will be helping and cheering you on, a step at a time. Hugs on the wing… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brad. Thank you so much for what you said about the move. That lightens my heart.
      I read this book several years ago. I thought it was obscure (and not exceptionally written, but not bad), but yesterday when I was proofing the post I was very surprised to find the movies.
      Anyhow the descriptions of traveling from DC to Alexandria (what is now Old Town) captured me — horses and buggies, muddy dirt roads… and the time it took to make the journey! (Although with modern traffic it can *seem* to take all day, and might come close on some days.)
      I think you might enjoy the read.


  18. It’s always fun to imagine what things must have been like generations before us, and one can’t help but wonder what they might have thought of our times as well! Elusive Isabel sounds fun! I’m a big fan of fans (I know it was popular in the past but in Spain they are still very much alive and kicking and I’m forever giving them as gifts to people), and the language of fans has always fascinated me as well. I’ve also read some spy novels set in the era, but written now, so it could make for an interesting comparison.
    Thanks very much, Teagan, and don’t worry too much about us. We’ll be here. Take as much time as you need to get to the new stage in your journey. The goal is well-worth it. ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Olga, thanks so very much for this comment and for your encouragement. I’m intrigued that fans are that popular in Spain. I agree that they would make lovely gifts. Oh! Maybe I can use this in Atonement book 3… since I mean to have part of it in the distant past! Hmmmm…
      Hugs on the wing.


  19. Honestly, I would like to time travel back to the Victorian Era, and hang, as long as it remained interesting. Of course, I would have to be able to, return to whatever timeframe I fancied, once I wished it.
    You really can make fantasy, reality, with a creative mind.
    I love your fantasy reality.
    Oh, and which is which?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s great to see you, Cindy. I’d love to go to long ago times… then I remember my love of indoor plumbing. 😀 But you’ve solved that problem by including an at-will way back home. 😉 There’s the ticket.
      Thank you for your kind words. I’m grateful that I can live some hours in the fantasy-reality in my mind. Although the real world has to be dealt with… unfortunately. LOL.
      Hugs on the wing.


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