Geoffrey StrongMarch 6, 2013
I was going to wait until I’d read Mrs. Tree and Mrs. Tree’s Will to write about Geoffrey Strong, but I’m doing a mystery novel thing now, and I don”t know how long it’s going to take me to get around to them. Also I’m sort of sad about the implied death of Mrs. Tree.
Geoffrey Strong is short and sweet — very both — and reminded me a little bit of Joseph Crosby Lincoln (always a plus) and Myrtle Reed (in a good way, which isn’t a given). In a lot of ways, it’s the same story as Lavender and Old Lace, complete with a woman who puts a lantern in her window every night in memory of a lover who was lost at sea. Only better.
The woman in question here is Miss Vesta Blyth, an elderly spinster of the sweet and softly regretful variety who lives with her sister Phoebe, an elderly spinster of the acid-tongued, man-hating variety. Their house is the nicest house in town, and when Geoffrey Strong shows up in town to sub in for the local doctor, who’s got to go abroad or somewhere for his health, he decides he wants to live in it.
He insinuates himself into the Blyth girls’ good graces in the nicest way possible and moves in with them, and everything’s cool until their niece (also Vesta Blyth) shows up to recuperate from a nervous breakdown. She’s worn herself out at college, and Geoffrey is intensely disapproving, because apparently women are naturally unfitted for study. He’s super condescending, and it’s nice to see that being set up for a fall instead of tacitly approved by the author. Also there’s a bicycle crash, and delirium. It’s great. As for the rest of the book — well, the things you think are going to happen do happen, and the tone stays right all the way through. Laura E. Richards is pretty awesome, you know?