The Ways of the Hour (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)

The Ways of the Hour (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)

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by James Fenimore Cooper
     
 

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Published in 1850, this was Cooper's final novel—and America's first courtroom drama.  When innocent Mary Monson is accused of murder, she refuses to clear her name, insisting on a jury trial.  Cooper, who opposed the trial-by-jury system, mounts his soapbox to rail against the system’s susceptibility to corruption, among other flaws. 

Overview


Published in 1850, this was Cooper's final novel—and America's first courtroom drama.  When innocent Mary Monson is accused of murder, she refuses to clear her name, insisting on a jury trial.  Cooper, who opposed the trial-by-jury system, mounts his soapbox to rail against the system’s susceptibility to corruption, among other flaws. 

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781411443174
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Series:
Barnes & Noble Digital Library
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
528
File size:
534 KB

Meet the Author


James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) is best known for his masterpiece The Last of the Mohicans. A prolific and popular American writer, Cooper wrote fiction, non-fiction, and even tried his hand at the supernatural. He wrote many stories about the sea as well as the historical novels of his series Leatherstocking Tales.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 15, 1789
Date of Death:
September 14, 1851
Place of Birth:
Burlington, New Jersey
Place of Death:
Cooperstown, New York
Education:
Yale University (expelled in 1805)

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The Ways of the Hour 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ausonius More than 1 year ago
James Fenimore Cooper's last novel (1850), THE WAYS OF THE HOUR, is an old man's sometimes grumpy criticism of America in general and New York State in particular. Opinions are debated freely among young and old, refined and uncouth, idealistic and pragmatic and even the sane and not so sane. Some topics debated: -- Does the U.S. Constitution's protection of the institution of slavery make slavery a good idea? (Does this remind you of today's press-supported pubic excitement about a mosque at Ground Zero in Manhattan?) ***** -- Does the New York State constitution, revised in 1846, do well or ill in giving a wife complete control over any wealth she has inherited before marriage? ***** -- Does God intend women to be supremely independent of husbands? ***** -- Is the jury system a perversion of justice when jurors increasingly glory in ignoring a judge's instruction as to the law's meaning? ***** -- Is telling the truth the aim of America's "free" press? Or, rather, is making money at any cost the supreme god of journalism? ***** -- Why does the justice system treat convicted criminals more fairly and kindly than it does the innocent -- who may lose fortunes paying lawyers to defend them from malicious renters and jealous neighbors? "It is the innocent who have most reason to dread the law" (Ch.29). ***** All this political and sociological debate is scattered throughout a crime narrative which is reasonably straightforward but also immersed in late Gothic conventions of mysterious ancestry and wealth, a weakened mind, love, courtship and marriage of one aging couple and two young ones. ***** At its narrative core THE WAYS OF THE HOUR (a phrase meaning much the same as "the signs of the time") is a murder mystery and courtroom drama. Two charred bodies are found in a somewhat isolated New York cottage less than 20 miles from downtown New York City. There are witnesses who saw the cottage in flame and a beautiful young woman boarder being assisted to escape by two men who later disappeared. There is flimsy circumstantial evidence, especially a notched foreign gold coin belonging to the dead (or at least disappeared) landlady. This being found in boarder Mary Monson's purse, she stands trial for arson and double murder. Established star of the New York City bar, 60-ish bachelor Thomas Dunscomb is strangely drawn to the mysterious, beautiful obviously wealthy young defendant and represents her in court. ***** Crime scene investigation was in its infancy in the 1840s. But sloppy police investigation does not seem to matter, once public opinion, fanned by the yellow dog press of New York, becomes convinced of the guilt of Mary Monson. There is jury tampering. The accused lives luxuriously in prison, where she plays on a harp like an angel or King David. The lead defense lawyer discovers toward trial's end that Mary is the granddaughter of his one and only love who had jilted him for a richer man. Mary is permitted to cross examine the principal witness against her, regarding Mary's post-crime possession of the notched gold coin known to belong to the disappeared landlady. Mary then proves as good a lawyer as Portia in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE and better even than Perry Mason in applying pressure to a witness. This is a rich, rich novel, deserving more than one reading. -OOO-