Can you help identify this 19th century English classic novel?
October 20, 2011 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Can you identify this classic English novel? It was probably written in the 1800s. The main character is a youth/young man (along the lines of Great Expectations). His mother is subject to religious fits. The ending is set during the bursting of the South Sea Bubble.

A good friend of mine read this book when he was young but lost track of it and now wants to find it again.
posted by storybored to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Cranford," by Elizabeth Gaskell? Honestly, that's probably not it. Can you tell us more?
posted by Occula at 8:18 PM on October 20, 2011

Is he sure this is a 19th c. and/or English novel? There's a novel about the South Sea Bubble by William Harrison Ainsworth (called, not so originally, The South Sea Bubble), but it's been a few years...make that decades...OK, probably over a century since Ainsworth has qualified for classic status. I grabbed my historical novel bibliographies off the shelf, and couldn't find anything meeting this general description. Nor does it sound like any of the major nineteenth-century novels set during the eighteenth c. Does your friend remember anything more specific--the mother's religion, what the protagonist does (besides having a mother with fits...), where the book is set...?
posted by thomas j wise at 8:44 PM on October 20, 2011

My first thought was Trollope's The Way We Live Now, but I don't think that was specifically about the South Sea Bubble.
posted by trip and a half at 8:51 PM on October 20, 2011

19th Century literature is a very wide and deep field. Do you know the gender of the writer or if it was early or later 19th Century?
posted by fiercekitten at 9:00 PM on October 20, 2011

Apparently (I've only been Googling), William Harrison Ainsworth wrote a novel called The South Sea Bubble in 1868; got that information from here, which suggests in became a bit of a hot topic around that time. Can't find anything with a plot synopsis though.
posted by Abiezer at 10:04 PM on October 20, 2011

Damn, missed Thomas Wise's comment completely, sorry.
posted by Abiezer at 10:12 PM on October 20, 2011

Review of Ainsworth's The South Sea Bubble, a Tale of the Year 1720
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:47 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the effort, folks. (hello Abiezer!) The question has been resolved in a curious fashion. After reading this thread, my buddy came to the realization that he was mistaken about his memory about the South Seas Bubble being part of the novel. He had apparently conflated two different books together. He remembered a passage that referred to the mother's religious fits as "flopping". A quick Googling after that revealed the book to be a familiar one: "Tale of Two Cities".

Thanks once again everyone. This is a somewhat unorthodox resolution, but a question answered is a question answered.
posted by storybored at 11:20 AM on October 21, 2011

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