Posts Tagged ‘carolynwells’

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Patty’s Fortune

September 24, 2014

Patty’s Fortune is divided pretty clearly into two sections. In the first Bill Farnsworth hosts a house party in an empty hotel, and in the second Philip Van Reypen’s aunt attempts to coerce Patty into marrying Phil. Hopefully that will make it easier to talk about. I’ve been struggling with these last few books, mostly because I have a hard time telling them apart.

The house party thing is, I guess, Wells’ chance to revisit the premise of The Dorrance Domain, except with wealthy young people being waited on by shoals of servants instead of children in straitened circumstances mostly waiting on themselves. The party consists of twelve people, including the Kenerleys as chaperones, a new man called Chick Channing, and no Philip. Yay! Read the rest of this entry ?

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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 ?

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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 ?

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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.

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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 ?

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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.

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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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