Posts Tagged ‘american’

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In search of…

August 3, 2012

…a book I read a few years ago and meant to review. I foolishly neglected to write down the title or the author anywhere, but sometimes I find myself wanting to revisit it.

It was about an older woman who, when the story begins, is living in a home for elderly women. She unexpectedly inherits lots of money and a big house from a relative and relocates. She gets to experience all kinds of luxuries for the first time, but she also brings her own stuff to the table — common sense, mostly. She invites an old suitor to live with her as a companion, and I think she eventually adopts a kid or two. And there’s some stuff about fixing the problems of people in the neighborhood, which may involve her bringing them donuts she’s made. Also I think she buys a car.

It’s an American book, and for some reason I think it was published in 1911. Any help finding it would be appreciated. Recommendations of similar books would be appreciated, too. And if you’re searching for some public domain book and need help finding it, describe it in a comment and maybe someone here will be able to find it.

ETA: Found! I vaguely remembered that the title had a number in it and somehow dug up Drusilla with a Million. Feel free to comment with similar books or things you’re looking for, though.

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I and My True Love

December 7, 2010

“It is a pity that so excellent a novel should be handicapped by so inane a title as I and My True Love.”

So says a reviewer in The Arena, and I have to agree, although one of Hersilia A. Mitchell Keays’s other books is called He That Eateth Bread With Me, and that’s…well, far worse. I’m not entirely sure I’d call I and My True Love excellent, but it is really interesting. It’s the story of a divorced couple and their daughter, and although it’s nominally a romance, I felt that it was mostly about the complexity of human interactions, how hard it is to know what’s going on inside other people’s heads, and even your own. And, for a book from 1908, it’s sort of refreshingly frank about a lot of things. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Trumpeter Swan

December 6, 2010

The more I read by Temple Bailey, the more unsure I am about how I feel about her books. Judy was delightful. Glory of Youth had its moments, but mostly I found it kind of irritating. The Trumpeter Swan is never irritating, exactly, but it’s definitely never delightful, either.

It’s one of those post-WWI novels, where every young man in sight has gone and been heroic overseas, and now they’re home and they don’t know what to do with themselves. And The Trumpeter Swan is a lot more explicit about that theme than a lot of books are, but underneath all of the complaining about how unappreciated the returning soldiers are, there’s not a lot going on. I mean, it’s theoretically a WWI novel, but it’s actually one of those books where an assortment of young people get paired off. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Reviews at EP: To Have and to Hold

November 28, 2010

My Edwardian Promenade guest post for November is up: To Have and to Hold, by Mary Johnston. It’s much later than usual, I know,  but it’s practically the only era-appropriate thing I’ve read all month.

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Andrew the Glad

October 27, 2010

I really didn’t like Andrew the Glad, which was disappointing. I liked the two Maria Thompson Daviess books I’d read previously, and I liked the ad campaign for this one, but unfortunately neither of those things are actually relevant.

Andrew the Glad came out in 1913, like V.V.’s Eyes, and it’s also set in a city in the South (I think this one is Nashville). Both books deal with the growth of the cities involved,but Henry Sydnor Harrison  was in favor of progress, and Maria Thompson Davies…may have thought she was interested in progress. But the fact is that everything “good” in the world of the book is massed on the side that includes all the available Confederate veterans and their friends, and the way forward is inextricably bound up with feelings of nostalgia; the other side consists solely of corruption and booze. Read the rest of this entry ?

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V.V.’s Eyes

October 25, 2010

V.V.’s Eyes, despite the silly title, is a Serious Novel, with lots to say about the position of women in society, factory conditions, and charitable giving. But it’s also got a dazzlingly beautiful heroine, illustrations by R.M. Crosby (who usually, and more fittingly, illustrated romance novels), and an inappropriately melodramatic ending. I was never entirely convinced that Henry Sydnor Harrison knew what he wanted the book to be. On the other hand, I was frequently impressed by what it was.

Contemporary reviewers seem to have thought that the central figure of the book is V.V. — Dr. V. Vivian, a lame slum doctor — and I suspect that that was Harrison’s intention. But I was never quite convinced by V.V., who was sometimes a Christ-figure, sometimes a child, and every once in a while a (reluctantly) angry idealist. But I was completely won over by Miss Carlisle Heth, who it seems pretty unfair not to call the central character. She gets the vast majority of the available page space, and we spend most of the book pretty deeply ensconced in her head. And it’s time well spent. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Pleasures and Palaces

October 22, 2010

This one is for those of you who like fluffy romances. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Because we think she’s awesome.

October 13, 2010

So, I have no idea what happened with my last post.

I wrote a couple of paragraphs about The Social Secretary and saved them as a draft. Then I got distracted by The Bookman. There was a link I wanted to save, and I pasted it into the draft. And then, instead of saving it, I pressed publish.

I unpublished it pretty quickly, but it looks from the site stats like it might have stayed in the RSS feed? If you saw it, I apologize.

If you went to the URL in the post, you probably found a piece about how Carolyn Wells wanted a new word for light verse. Eh. But if you looked around a little more, you might have found the thing I didn’t want to lose track of. It was on the letters page.

A lady in Chicago, who signs her letter “F. E.,” asks a question and makes a remark. We shall consider each of these separately.

(i) Why are you always so respectful to Carolyn Wells?

Because we admire her so much.

I have omitted the remark.

From The Bookman, p. 170

Also, the full post on The Social Secretary is up now.

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The Social Secretary

October 13, 2010

The Social Secretary,  a novel of Washington, D.C. society, is kind of adorable, but surprisingly fluffy to have been written by a muckraking journalist. David Graham Phillips was known for exposing all sorts of corruption in the senate, and I suppose, as far as subject matter is concerned, that senators taking bribes aren’t all that far removed from senators’ wives trying to dominate local society.  I think there must be a pretty big difference in tone, though. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Advertisements: From the Car Behind

October 10, 2010

From Publisher’s Weekly.

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Advertisements: Seven Keys to Baldpate

October 6, 2010

Seven Keys to Baldpate at Project Gutenberg.

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The House Without a Key

September 29, 2010

So, you can thank Earl Derr Biggers for my meditations on racism yesterday. Reading up on Charlie Chan before I started The House Without a Key, I found an incredibly wide range of opinions on whether or not the depiction of Chan was racist, from “of course it isn’t; he’s a good guy,” to “the broken English and the servility are both kind of massively offensive.” So of course I read the book with the intention of forming my own opinion. And I did. I formed two, actually. One is that any depiction of a Chinese-American as a main character and a good person in the mid-1920s is a really good thing. The other is that consistently having the point-of-view characters be shocked and skeptical that a Chinese man could be a detective is kind of upsetting — and kept interrupting the flow of the story for me. Also I have issues with the way Biggers has the central character duplicate all of Chan’s work.

That said, I’m really enjoying Biggers’ books. I like his plots. I like his atmosphere. I like his characters, even when they think thoughts along the lines of “I seem to be involved with three different women. Huh.” Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Agony Column

September 29, 2010

It’s really hot in London, and Geoffrey West is coping by going to the Carlton for breakfast every morning, partly because it’s a bit cooler there, and partly because it’s the only place where you can still get strawberries. The American girl who comes in with her father one morning has the bad taste to prefer grapefruit to strawberries, but she shares West’s fondness for the Personal Notices section of the Daily Mail, AKA the agony column. People use it to discreetly send messages, whether they be love letters, “fly at one; all is discovered,” or cryptic remarks about fish. And so it seems perfectly reasonable, if a little unconventional, for West to use it to communicate with the girl, with whom he has fallen in love at first sight. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Reviews at EP: Dawn O’Hara

September 19, 2010

My guest post at Edwardian Promenade this month is on Edna Ferber’s first novel, Dawn O’Hara, the Girl Who Laughed.

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Bab: a Sub-Deb

September 8, 2010

For the first time, I have a real problem with Mary Roberts Rinehart. It has to do with her spelling.

No one really wants to read a book that’s misspelled all the way through. I mean, if you’re Daisy Ashford and you’re, like, eight, it’s excusable. But basically, unless you’re Russell Hoban, misspelling an entire book is don’t-try-this-at-home territory. And while Bab: a Sub-Deb is cute, Rinehart just…isn’t Russell Hoban, you know? Read at your own risk.

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