Rose Gowen, whose day job involves working with old newspapers, sends this excerpt from the Weekly Item, a paper out of Philadelphia, dated March 29, 1884:
How to Read a Novel.
Open it in the middle, glance at a page. Catch the names of the characters.
Turn to the last page and see whether he married her, or she died with angels hovering around the head-board.
Turn to the beginning and see what the matter was with the old man, and why he didn’t approve the match.
You have thus acquainted yourself with all the essential facts of the novel, and can imagine the moonlit walks, the sylvan dells, the afternoon teas, the cuss words muttered through the teeth of the male characters, and all the other stuff.