When I start reading a book and the protagonist is a doctor recovering from a nervous breakdown, and he comes to a small town and settles down to practice small town medicine incognito and becomes interested in the daughter of the previous town doctor, I’m pretty sure I know exactly what I’m getting. In the case of Up the Hill and Over, by Isabel Ecclestone Mackay, I was very wrong. Read the rest of this entry ?
Posts Tagged ‘1910s’
When I get in a certain kind of mood, there’s nothing that I want more than stories about downtrodden people being showered with care and nice things and the people who have been metaphorically treading on them having that shoved in their faces. And Aunt Crete’s Emancipation, by Grace Livingston Hill, is the distilled essence of that. And you guys know me pretty well, I guess, because a number of you have recommended it to me over the past few years. It’s my own fault for not giving in and reading it sooner. Read the rest of this entry ?
I’m finally done with Peter the Brazen, and I feel I can say definitively now that it is the worst. The worst. I hardly know what else to say about it, or how to catalog its various failings.
I thought I was going to enjoy this book. Peter Moore is a wireless operator, and he’s the best wireless operator. He can hear things no one else can hear, and other wireless operator recognize…I don’t know, the inflections of his Morse code, or something. And he doesn’t have a lean, sardonic countenance, but he does have a tendency to smile inappropriately, which practically amounts to the same thing. So, all of that boded well. And I was prepared for some racism, because this is the kind of book where the existence of actual Asian people is completely irrelevant to the glamour of Asia. But in general I thought that this book wouldn’t be very good, but that I would enjoy it.
I was wrong. I was so, so wrong. Read the rest of this entry ?
In 1901, Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, two British academics, visited Versailles. Ten years later they published An Adventure under the names Elizabeth Morison and Frances Lamont, purporting to be an account of that tour, a few later visits, and their correspondence and research about what took place there. Read the rest of this entry ?
Marie Belloc Lowndes’ The Lodger has been on my TBR list for a long time, but I tend to avoid horror fiction, and all I really knew about The Lodger was a basic synopsis, that it was based on the story of Jack the Ripper, and that it had been made into a Hitchcock movie.
I don’t feel like I know a lot more about it now.
The central character is Ellen Bunting, a former maid married to a former butler. The Buntings live in a poor but quiet neighborhood in East London, and rent out rooms. Only no one’s wanted to rent their rooms for a while, so they’re on he verge of starvation when the story opens. Then a gentleman arrives, eccentric but respectable-looking, with no luggage and a pile of money, and rents — well, basically all the rooms, so that he will remain the Buntings’ only lodger. He seems weird, but he’s also quiet and well-spoken, and they do desperately need money. Read the rest of this entry ?
I have pretty low standards for how coherent something has to be before I post it, but the 800 words I wrote on George Barr McCutcheon’s Mr. Bingle last week didn’t meet them. Basically, the problem was that I loved the first few chapters of the book, hated the rest, and allowed my extremely conflicted feelings about George Barr McCutcheon to get all over everything. 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 ?
The time has probably come for me to face the facts: Carolyn Wells was not a good mystery novelist. I mean, nothing can take away from my love for Vicky Van, but it’s the exception, not the rule. The rule is a book where, when you’re told that a young woman has a domineering husband or relative, you know who the murder victim is going to be. The rule has a massively annoying narrator who is usually a lawyer, even more usually in love with the woman freed by the murder, and absolutely always an idiot.
A Chain of Evidence has perhaps the most stupid narrator of all, a lawyer named Otis Landon who has just moved into an apartment across the hall from the one occupied by Janet Pembroke, her bedridden uncle Robert, and their maid, Charlotte. Robert Pembroke is the inevitable murder victim, and he’s found stabbed in the back of the neck with a pin one morning. The catch is that the murder happened at night, after the security chain on the door was on, so no one should have been able to get in without breaking the chain. Read the rest of this entry ?
It took me about a month to read Queed. I read it in bits, mostly during lunchtimes a couple of times a week. And there were days when I chose not to read it because the last bit seemed to signal bad things to come. But in the end, I liked it more for all the tension and discomfort. Henry Sydnor Harrison is so good, guys. Read the rest of this entry ?
I’ve now read books five and six of the Molly Brown series — Molly Brown’s Post-Graduate Days and Molly Brown’s Orchard Home. And I think I’m taking a break for a bit. I don’t like anyone anymore. Or care about what happens to Molly.
Here’s what happens in the first two post-college Molly Brown books:
A bunch of people fall in love with each other. Everyone is super jealous of everyone else. Molly and Professor Green are much less entertaining than they were before. Molly’s aunt, for whatever reason, is evil. So is the mother of a girl they meet on their way to France in book six. The kind of people who were redeemable in the earlier books aren’t anymore. The humor is meaner. The friendships are less convincing.
I’m sure part of the way I feel about these two books is about my having run out of patience, but not all of it. So, I hope to come back to Molly Brown at some point and finish the series, but for now I am done.
People have been bugging me about reading Nell Speed for a long time. LadyMem on Twitter, in particular, reminds me every so often that this is something I have to do. And since it seemed like last week was coming late to the party week for me, I have finally started reading the Molly Brown series. This post deals with the first half of the series — Molly Brown’s Freshman Days through Molly Brown’s Senior Days.
And yeah, they’re fun. Really, really fun.
This is actually the first college girl series I’ve read in years that hasn’t made me feel like a lousy person for not liking college. I don’t know if that’s because they’re less intent on preaching the gospel of their fictional college, or just that I’ve moved past that. I think it might be a little of both. 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 ?
I was in the mood for something light and funny the other day, so I went to see what the internet had to offer in the way of non-Charlie Chan novels by Earl Derr Biggers. I found Love Insurance, which was exactly what I was looking for, except in that it didn’t really thrill me in any way.
The premise is kind of excellent, to a point, and if the book had revolved around Owen Jephson, underwriter for Lloyd’s of London, I think I would have liked it more. Jephson specializes in insuring incedibly peculiar things: he’s insured an actor against losing weight, a duchess against rain at her garden party, etc. I want very badly for Herbert George Jenkins to have written a book about Jephson, but sadly the world doesn’t work that way. And Biggers is more concerned first with Allan, Lord Harrowby, who wants to insure his wedding date, and then, more centrally, with Dick Minot, who Lloyd’s sends to Florida and protect their assets by making sure that Harrowby’s wedding to the beautiful Cynthia Meyrick goes as planned. Minot, inevitably, falls in love with Cynthia almost at first sight, and that’s only the first of many complications — there are jewel thieves, long-lost relatives, blackmail, and a society matron who hires a guy to write bon mots for her. And that list barely scrapes the surface. Read the rest of this entry ?