Jenn recommended Chip of the Flying U, by B.M. Bower, about a year ago, and that’s probably how long it’s been sitting on my Kindle. I don’t know why I picked it up this weekend, except that the internet in my apartment wasn’t working and I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about anything I was more familiar with, but I’m glad I did. It’s almost entirely delightful, one of those books that does enough right that you don’t care that much about the stuff it doesn’t. And if you have to be content with a kind of ham-fisted ending, well, everything before that is so much fun that the book has kind of earned the right to fall apart in the last chapter. Read the rest of this entry ?
Posts Tagged ‘1900s’
Cathlin recommended The Dorrance Domain, and I was frustrated enough with Peter the Brazen (which I’m still reading, bit by excruciatingly awful bit) that I started it almost immediately. It’s by Carolyn Wells, and it’s about a family consisting of four kids and their grandmother, who sick of life in New York boarding houses, decide to try living in a defunct hotel.
It’s a good concept, and it’s Carolyn Wells, so the execution should be good, too. But instead the whole thing just feels kind of halfhearted. I hear “kids living in an empty hotel” and yeah, I think, “oh cool, everyone can choose whichever room they want” and “they can spread out all across the hotel dining room.” And Wells provides that. But I also think I’m going to get kids biting off more than they can chew at first, and making mistakes, and slowly becoming more competent, and there’s barely any of that. Saying “barely any” instead of “none” is really nice of me, actually. Read the rest of this entry ?
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. 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 ?
The Affair at the Inn is unusual in two ways: first, it’s a collaborative novel that isn’t a trainwreck. The four main characters are written by four different writers, and I didn’t finish the book with a sense that the writers hated each other, or that the plot at the end was hastily patched together from the ruins of what it was originally meant to be. Second, it’s sort of Williamsonian (alternating points of view, traveling American heiress, Scottish baronet with an automobile) but without anyone traveling incognito. Nothing else about it was unusual, but almost everything about it was very nice. Read the rest of this entry ?
So, apparently not every seraphic but practical child protagonist Edgar Jepson creates is going to be wonderful. The title character of The Admirable Tinker, like Pollyooly, is repeatedly described as an angel child and has a knack for attracting improbably large sums of money, but the book lacks whatever it was that made Pollyooly so magical.
That said, I enjoyed The Admirable Tinker. Just not as much as I thought I was going to. Read the rest of this entry ?
Check out the previous post in the series for stuff about short story series you’ve almost certainly heard of, and for my philosophy of short stories, which pretty much boils down to “they’re better when they come by the bookful and are all about the same character.”
These are the stories that I’ve written about here before. They’re in order from least to most awesome, which is not to say that the Our Square stories aren’t pretty good, or that Torchy isn’t a little higher on my list of favorite things ever than Emma McChesney. I mean, I put them in worst-to-best order by accident, and thought I might as well make a note of it. Read the rest of this entry ?