A Crown of Shame

Published in 1888, A Crown of Shame is a tale of illegitimacy set on the fictional West Indian island of San Diego.  The ambivalent view of slavery and typically unenlightened Victorian attitude towards race makes it an uncomfortable read.  Unusually, The Athenaeum did give it qualified praise, seemingly because it confirmed their own prejudices.  The Saturday Review, however, thought it “ridiculous without being in the least amusing” and The Academy declared that such subjects were best left to the superior pen of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Perhaps the only redeeming quality is an exciting scene involving a heroic woman and some alligators.