come to associate with the virtues and pitfalls of nineteenth-century domestic fiction. While a reviewer in Harper's praised Tempest and Sunshine for its depiction of "life in Kentucky" and a plot "wrought with considerable skill," it noted "marks of haste" and "want of finish." This reviewer found "isolated passages of great power"; while the review commended the outlines of characters "admirable given," it also noted that they lacked "thorough elaboration" (278).
Finally, reviewers liked Holmes's good humor and lack of sensationalism. The North American Review said that The English Orphans "stops short of mawkishness" and that its "comic vein is worked with equal success and moderation" (cited in Papashvily147). Her serial fiction, despite its lack of prominence in reviews in literary periodicals, is credited with having saved the New York Weekly. In 1888 Holmes authored an essay whose title best attests to her position in nineteenth-century readers' minds: "Men, Don't Be Selfish; a Talk to Husbands by the Ladies' Favorite Novelist."
Anonymous. Review of Tempest and Sunshine. Harper's ( July 1854): 278.
Baym, Nina. Novels, Readers, and Reviewers: Responses to Fiction in Antebellum America. Ithaca: Cornell, 1984.
Brashear, Lucy. "The Novels of Mary Jane Holmes: Education for Wifehood." In Nineteenth-Century Women Writers of the English-Speaking World, edited by Rhoda B. Nathan . New York: Greenwood, 1986.
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Papashvily, Helen Waite. All the Happy Endings: A Study of the Domestic Novel in America, the Women Who Wrote It, the Women Who Read It, in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Harper, 1956.
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Tempest and Sunshine; or Life in Kentucky. New York: Appleton, 1854.
The English Orphans; or, A Home in the New World. New York: Appleton, 1855.
The Homestead on the Hillside and Other Tales. New York: Miller, Orton, Mulligan, 1855.
'Lena Rivers. New York: Miller, Orton, Mulligan, 1856.
Meadow Brook. New York: Miller, Orton, Mulligan, 1857.
Dora Deane; or, The East India Uncle. New York: G. W. Carleton, 1858.
Maggie Miller; or Old Hagar's Secret. New York: A. L. Burt, 1858.
Hugh Worthington, a Novel. New York: G. W. Carleton, 1859.