Posts Tagged ‘carolynwells’

h1

The Dorrance Domain

April 3, 2014

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 ?

h1

A Chain of Evidence

August 27, 2013

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 ?

h1

Reviews at EP: The Clue

July 10, 2011

Several weeks ago, I followed up my reread of Vicky Van with my first ever reading of The Clue, Carolyn Wells’ first mystery novel. It’s possible that it’s also her best mystery novel, although I also kind of think it’s her worst ever use of Fleming Stone.

 

Unrelatedly, I’m so fond of recieving recommendations from readers that I’ve put up a page specifically for that purpose. You can find it here or in the sidebar.

h1

Vicky Van

June 18, 2011

I’ve been pretty busy lately — I’m sort of moving tomorrow, for one thing — but today is the 149th anniversary of Carolyn Wells’ birth, and I figured I should a) do something Carolyn Wells-related today, and b) think up something really excitingly Carolyn Wells-related for next year’s 150th.

So. Vicky Van. My usual reaction to Carolyn Wells’ mystery novels is not entirely respectful, to say the least. I mock because I love. But I feel no need to mock Vicky Van.

Our narrator is Chester Calhoun, one of those lawyers who so frequently pop up as narrators in mystery novels, using their clientele as an excuse to investigate a mystery, and usually falling in love along the way. Chester lives with his sister and his aunt in a house on the upper east side, and across the street lives Victoria Van Allen, known to her friends as Vicky Van. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Reviews at EP: The Visits of Elizabeth, etc.

January 17, 2011

My new post at Edwardian Promenade is up! It’s about one of my favorite Elinor Glyn books, The Visits of Elizabeth, and two sequels, one by Glyn and one…not.

I found myself thinking, halfway through Elizabeth Visits America, about the way books take place in their own separate worlds. I mean, I often think about how an author’s style sort of creates an alternate universe, so the works of Elinor Glyn take place in a world where women are naturally a bit conniving and men are very simple and countries age like people, but here I was thinking more about how I read a lot of books set in the same time period, but somehow I always relate them in terms of style, not history. Anyway, there’s a bit in Elizabeth Visits America where Elizabeth is in New York, and she talks about young people who aren’t out in society yet, and how the boys and girls are as familiar with each other as siblings, and how their dances are almost like children’s parties, and I suddenly realized that — remember, this is 1909 — hey, that’s Patty Fairfield that Elizabeth is meeting, basically. So, I don’t know, I thought I’d share that.

Anyway, the post is here.

h1

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.

h1

Patty’s Butterfly Days

May 5, 2010

I had meant to finish writing about the Patty Fairfield books in order at some indefinite point in the future, but I had a hankering to reread Patty’s Butterfly Days this week.

Butterfly Days is one of my favorites, I think. I’m pretty sure the only one I’ve read more often is Patty’s Summer Days. In it, Patty is left alone at the seaside with her friend Mona while Mr. Fairfield and Nan take a trip to the mountains. Mona lives in a big, over-decorated mansion, and she and Patty go to a lot of parties, give a few themselves, and are generally unproductive members of society. It’s really enjoyable.

I, um, don’t think I’ve ever had to to this before, but: SPOILERS AHEAD. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Gold Bag

October 2, 2009

The first two Carolyn Wells mysteries I ever read were The Gold Bag and Vicky Van. I think the choice was dictated by them being the only two available on PG at the time, but it worked out well, since they sort of represent the best and the worst. I’ve read Vicky Van three or four times now, but I never reread The Gold Bag until last week.

The main thing I took away from my first reading of The Gold Bag was that Herbert Burroughs, the narrator/detective, was gullible and fond of leaping to conclusions. The book opens with Burroughs’ supervisor telling him, “Burroughs, if there’s a mystery to be unravelled; I’d rather put it in your hands than to trust it to any other man on the force…you go about it scientifically, and you never jump at conclusions, or accept them, until they’re indubitably warranted.” My Delicious bookmark (dated June 2006) says, “I’m sorry, an air of truth isn’t evidence, Mr. Burroughs.”

Actually, now that I’ve said that, I’m not sure anything else needs to be added. But I suppose I can’t let that stop me. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Leavenworth Case

February 26, 2009

Carolyn Wells apparently discovered mystery novels after having had one of Anna Katherine Green’s books read aloud to her circa 1909. The Leavenworth Case was Green’s first and best-known book, and if it wasn’t the one that Wells heard read, then probably all Green’s books were pretty similar, because The Leavenworth Case reads like a blueprint for all of Well’s mystery novels, mostly in terms of the setting and the general construction of events. Or maybe not a blueprint, because blueprints are kind of spare and simplified, by definition, and The Leavenworth Case is as overwrought as any mystery novel I’ve ever read.

Horatio Leavenworth, a wealthy retired businessman, is found dead in his library one morning, shot through the back of the head. His secretary, Trueman Harwell, seeks to enlist the aid of Mr. Leavenworth’s lawyer, Mr. Veeley, in watching over the interests of Mr. Leavenworth’s two nieces, Mary and Eleanore, but finds Veeley away on business. Everett volunteers to stand in for Veeley, and promptly falls in love with Eleanore, who, of course, appears to be guilty of the crime. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Anybody but Anne, and Murder Will In

November 20, 2008

Tuesday was my birthday, so I chose to spend the day at the library. The main branch of the New York Public Library, to be precise. The have a gigantic non-circulating collection of old books they’ve taken off the shelves because no one is interested in them anymore, but if you get an access card, you can request that they let you look at them for a while. You fill out little slips — no more than three at a time — and then, in less than half an hour, they bring your books up in a dumbwaiter, and you get to pick them up at a desk in the main reading room, which has the coolest ceiling ever. It’s probably the size of a football field, and it has all these nooks and crannies that look like they’d be really fun to climb on if the ceiling were somehow turned upside down. Which, yes, is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.

Anyway. I spent about five hours there and read two Carolyn Wells mysteries, Anybody but Anne (1914) and Murder Will In (1942), a title that has always interested me. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Long time no update

August 28, 2008

I haven’t updated Redeeming Qualities much recently, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. Things keep getting in the way, like the Olympics, with which I was obsessed for about a week (and then the swimming ended). I’m also trying to catch up on some TV shows before the new season starts. I’m still reading — I’m always reading — but I’ve been reading more modern things, like a few novels and novellas by Connie Willis, and working my way through a collection of Agatha Christie etexts. The Christies are old enough to review here, but certainly not obscure enough, and after all, what is there to say about an Agatha Christie mystery after the first five or ten?

I have a few things I’m planing to post about in the near future. I’m working my way through a book by Sarah McNaughtan called Peter and Jane, which is alternately fascinating and mystifying (in a boring way), and I want to do a post about Jerome K. Jerome, but I’ve decided to finish Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow before I reread Three Men in a Boat. I also recently started a Mary Roberts Rinehart book called Dangerous Days, but I stopped reading it because I suspected that the only likeable character was about to be murdered. I do intend to finish it soon, though. And then, I haven’t read any Carolyn Wells books in a while, and I really do have to finish writing about the Patty books.

Meanwhile, I do read the comments people leave, though not as often as a I should, and as several people have found recently, I’m always happy to talk about Patty Fairfield, or anythign else I’ve written about here. I mean, I mostly started this blog in the hopes of finding someone to talk about A Woman Named Smith.

h1

Patty’s Success

September 27, 2007

I had almost finished writing up Patty’s Success when I accidentally let my computer run out of batteries. Maybe now I’ll stop leaving textedit windows open with days worth of unsaved notes. I’m really upset with myself, because I’d been stopping to write down my thoughts as I read the book, and there’s lots of stuff I won’t remember. Also, it’s much less fun to write about something the second time round.

Patty’s Success was pretty good, considering it introduces Christine Farley and Philip Van Reypen, two characters whose advents I’d been dreading. Patty, Nan, and Mr. Fairfield reach New York about a week before Christmas, and are immediately plunged into a whirl of festivities. Patty has so many friends that not even the enormous amount of souvenirs she collected over the course of a year or so abroad will provide presents for them all.
Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Patty’s Pleasure Trip

September 17, 2007

So, Patty’s Pleasure Trip was enjoyable, but having at last found a Patty book that I have problems with, I’m going to concentrate on those.

Problem #1: The Fairfields have spent enough time abroad. It’s time to go home. The last book was supposed to end just before it was time for Patty to go back to America, but then Carolyn Wells changed her mind and sent to Fairfields to Italy. Now they’re finally heading back, but, this book having ended with the Fairfields deciding to sail for home on December 1st, I’m worried that the first half of the next book will be taken up with their trip, or, worse yet, that they’ll change their minds at the last moment and spend Christmas in, I don’t know, Germany or something. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Patty’s Friends

September 13, 2007

I have two theories about the excitingly and descriptively named Patty’s Friends.

1. In her excitement at discovering the existence of mystery novels, Carolyn Wells couldn’t help sticking mysteries in everything. I haven’t been able to put a date to the story about the first time she encountered a mystery novel (it was one of Anna Katherine Green’s, she was hooked from the first page, and she immediately began turning out mysteries of her own), but the first Fleming Stone book seems to have been published in 1909, while Patty’s Friends was published in 1908, so that seems seems to support the theory.

2. She was kidding. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Raspberry Jam and The Curved Blades.

September 12, 2007

So, I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’ve been on a Carolyn Wells kick lately. Having run out of Patty books for the moment, I’ve been reading a few of her mystery novels, like Raspberry Jam and The Curved Blades.
Read the rest of this entry ?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers