So, everyone here likes stories about spinsters getting back a bit of their own, right? “The Bachelor’s Christmas” isn’t that, but thematically it’s a cross between that and Colonel Crockett’s Co-operative Christmas. As you can probably imagine, I’m super into it. Read the rest of this entry »
I realized, as I was looking around for Christmas stories to read this year, that when I think about Christmas stories I’m only thinking about one kind of Christmas story. For me to even read a Christmas story means it’s probably set in the modern day, or, you know, the time period in which it was written. And it’s got to be set in something resembling reality. Like, I’ve enjoyed stories about talking mice, for sure, but if your Christmas story consists of a talking mouse telling a story about how another talking mouse got killed by a cat as a direct result of not believing in Santa Claus, I’m hitting the back button. So it was fitting that I want directly from The Mouse and the Moonbeam to The Blossoming Rod, which is the most prosaic Christmas story I’ve ever read. Read the rest of this entry »
So, Thomas Nelson Page was apparently a Lost Cause-er. Gross. I’m glad I didn’t love Santa Claus’s Partner. I mean, it’s fine. It’s a nice, workmanlike Christmas story with no indication that the author was super into slavery. It just doesn’t make me want to read others of Page’s books, which is nice because I wouldn’t want to give Dead Thomas Nelson Page the satisfaction.
Also, while I’m not actually going to spend this review referring to the main character by Benedict Cumberbatch names, well…I want you to know that I could. Because his name is Berryman Livingstone, and if Butterfly Creamsicle is close enough for the internet, then Berryman Livingstone is, too. Read the rest of this entry »
So, here is a thing that could pass for a description of a book, or possibly a Hallmark Christmas movie, minus the Christmas:
A girl manufactures a fictional fiancé to show up her dismissive roommates. She tells them she’s getting married the day after their double wedding. When she gets on the train for the country retreat she’s planned for her “honeymoon,” she discovers that her friends and their husbands are on the same train, because the friend who lent her his farmhouse has also lent them houses on the same property. She talks the nearest man into impersonating her fiancé, only to find that he’s her crush, disguised in order to avoid the man who’s trying to serve him with a subpeona.
This post is brought to you by my tendency not to think things through before I write about them.
So, the thing about Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey is that she was lousy at endings. Like, she’s so good at putting prickly characters in twisty emotional situations and still having everything be super charming, but then the end is always a cop-out, or rushed, or suddenly makes you hate all the characters you loved for most of the book. Anyway, I read a review of one of her books at Fleur in her World the other day, and Fleur had the same issue with the last 10% of the book, but her praise for the first 90% made me want to read something by Mrs. G. de H.V., because when she’s good, she’s very, very good. Read the rest of this entry »
So, I think The Miz Maze might be the best collaborative novel I’ve read. It was published in 1883, but seems to take place circa 1859, and the authors are as follows:
Christabel Rose Coleridge
Mary Susanna Lee
A.E. Mary Anderson Morshead
Frances Mary Peard
Eleanor C. Price
Charlotte Mary Yonge
Nine authors is a lot, and I want to know more about them and about the dynamic between them. But all I’ve got is the obvious textual evidence that they weren’t as acrimonious as The Whole Family‘s lot. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing but a page of signatures, a few Wikipedia pages, and a random selection of facts about Charlotte Yonge. And that’s okay. It’s a pretty self-sufficient book, I think, and the authors seem to agree.
The information they do and don’t choose to give is so interesting. First, the authors’ names appear only as facsimile signatures, and they don’t specify who wrote what. Second, they provide a list of characters, and it’s crazy. See, for example, “Sir Walter Winkworth, Baronet of the Miz Maze, Stokeworthy, Wilts, age about 64, residing, when the book opens, at High Scale, a small property in Westmoreland, which was his in right of his second wife, Sophia Ratclyffe, recently deceased.”
I mean, all else aside, that’s a hell of a lot of commas. Read the rest of this entry »
So. More Amy Le Feuvre. This one is called Olive Tracy, and follows the title character over roughly the span of the Boer War. At the beginning, she’s the de facto housekeeper of her family’s home, which she shares with her mother, her younger sister Elsie, and Osmond, the invalid son of her dead eldest brother. The oldest sister, Vinny, is unhappily married and living in London, while another brother, Eddie, is in the Army, and not behaving as his family would wish him to. Then there’s their neighbors, Sir Marmaduke and Lady Crofton, and their two sons: Marmaduke is a captain in the army, and in love with Olive. He’s also steady and reliable and not super attractive in a way that made me think of Lord Algy from Pretty Kitty Herrick. Mark, the younger brother, is even more dissolute than Eddie, and seems to have been given up, even by his parents, as a bad lot.
Olive’s troubles begin when Marmaduke — Duke for short, thankfully — goes off to South Africa to keep an eye on Mark. He proposes before he leaves, but she turns him down, and only afterwards realizes that she might have feelings for him after all. Then her mother dies, and the Tracy household is split up, with Elsie going one way and Olive and Osmond another. Also the Boer War begins, and is omnipresent and awful in the background. Somewhere in there, Olive finds God in the same way that everyone finds God in these books, which is, I don’t know, either the most weirdly flat conversion I’ve ever read, or pure mysticism. Or both. Read the rest of this entry »