It is one of those truisms, and one I apologise that I have often repeated, that to be a real heroine one must have a name that ends in the letter “a”. We all remember how Cherry in Mr Barrett’s novel “The Heroine” did not find her true vocation until she changed her name to Cherubina.

So I have a little problem here. I am presently entranced by Mrs Smith’s “The Venetian Sorceress” and true to form the beautiful, yet mysterious, heroine carries the name Rosalina. However, and here I struggle, the hero – or would be hero – is unfortunate enough to be named Rosalva. Even now, and I am at the start of the second volume, each time I read that name I think briefly to myself  “Rosalva, who’s she?” until I realise it is he.

When Rosalina begins to fall in  love with him, as I’m sure she must, this name issue really might become a problem. Are we going to experience shades of The Importance of Being Earnest here, I so hope not. But seriously Mrs Smith, and no – it isn’t that Mrs Smith, naming is important and you really must try harder next time. 

Still, i can forgive her a little, as the train reached my stop this morning I was just reading the following paragraph

On reaching the building, he was greatly surprised at not finding it, as he expected, the humble dwelling of the forest labourer, but the dilapidated remains of an ancient structure resembling a religious house or castle. He was astonished for he never knew that the wood contained such a place; and from the sombre appearance it exhibited, thought it might be the retreat of ruffians. the taper, that still shed its faint beams from a Gothic window over the broken portico served the purpose of shewing the entrance to this desolated ruin, and giving it a still more gloomy look.

The time for my journey home can’t come soon enough!

Catherine Smith (1815) Barozzi, or the Venetian Sorceress. A Romance of the Sixteenth Century.  Minerva Press.

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