Books: Lady on a Plush Pegasus

THE FINE AND THE WICKED (223 pp.)—Monica Stirling—Coward-McCann ($4).

Stuffed birds under glass bells no longer sit on modern mantelpieces, and the 47 books of Ouida no longer stand between ebony bookends. Yet Ouida, "almost the last of lady authors," is not just a Victorian-Edwardian period piece. Monica

Stirling's detailed, if often careless book proves her a writer of astonishing vigor, and as rare a bird as any to undergo a biographer's taxidermy.

Before the turn of the century, she enjoyed a wicked fame, and children were spanked for reading her; in an age that would call a bed a bed only if it...

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