Opening a Chestnut Burr

Title: Opening a Chestnut Burr
Genre: Fiction/Religion
Author: E. P. Roe (1858-1888)
Publisher: Dodd Mead and Company, New York, New York
Series: The Works of E. P. Roe
Year: 1885 (revised edition of 1884 volume)
Pages: 546
Format: Hardcover with embossed linen binding
Provenance: Inscribed “To my wife — September 3rd 1895 Edwin S. Owen’ on inside front cover.
Dedication: “This book is affectionately dedicated to my wife.”
Preface Opening: “In sending this, my fourth venture, out upon the uncertain waters of public opinion, I shall say but few words of preface. In the past I have received considerable well-deserved criticism from the gentlemen of the caustic pen, but so far from having any hard feeling toward them, I have rather wondered that they found so much to say that was favorable. How they will judge this simple October story (if they think it worth while to judge it at all) I leave to the future, and turn to those for whom the book was really written.”
Random Passage: “Annie quietly stepped to the hearth and stirred the fire to a cheerful blaze. She then went to the parlor and brought the afghan, and without so much as saying ‘by your leave,’ spread it over his chilled form.”
Goodreads Review: “A deeply Christian story with a thoroughly delightful ending. There's a good bit of romance and outdoors.” — Hannah, February 15, 2013.
Notes: Apparently E. P. Roe was one of those successful yet critically reviled writers with a wide appeal to the middle class, based on that apologetic preface excerpt alone — the Nicholas Sparks of the 1880s! As for the identity of Edwin S. Owen, who lovingly gifted this volume to his wife in 1895 — it may well have been this man, then a 33 year-old student at Northwestern University College of Pharmacy in Chicago married to the former Martha Waltrip. According to the date on the inscription, the couple was celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary at the time. The Owens eventually moved to Boise, Iowa, where Edwin established a successful optometry practice.


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