All you members of the fluffy romance contingent will not want to miss out on Samuel Hopkins Adams’ Little Miss Grouch, the most adorable and entertaining novel of transatlantic crossing that it’s ever been my pleasure to read. Read the rest of this entry ?
Posts Tagged ‘fluff’
Mark recommended The Island Mystery, by George A. Birmingham, as a silly, fun book. And to be honest, that kind of made me nervous. I feel like I haven’t had a great track record with silly, fun books lately. I’ve been finding them silly, but not all that fun.
The Island Mystery was a little different. I wasn’t wildly enthusiastic about it or anything, but I liked it a lot better at the beginning than I did at the end, and I don’t think there’s anything about it that I’d want to change, except maybe the title, which is kind of lame and would work much better on a different book. Possible one featuring the Boxcar Children.
You know all those Ruritanian romances where the author makes up a small monarchy and plunks it down somewhere in the middle of Europe so that the hero can go have adventures there? The Island Mystery is a tiny bit like that, but really it’s about what would happen if you did plunk an imaginary country down in the middle of Europe. Because, if you think about it, the surrounding nations might be a bit upset by that, not to mention confused. Read the rest of this entry ?
Donald Prime is a writer from New York, Lucetta Millington a teacher in an Ohio boarding school. They become acquainted when they wake up one day on the shore of a Canadian lake. Neither of them has any idea how they got there, but there’s a pile of provisions and signs that an airplane has landed nearby, and from these Prime deduces that his friend Watson Grider is playing an extremely elaborate practical joke. I say ‘deduces,’ but you shouldn’t draw any conclusions from that, or from anything Prime thinks. As far as I could tell, he’s not particularly good at anything, even his chosen profession. Grider certainly doesn’t think so — Prime’s main reason for suspecting him is that Grider once said that if Prime were stranded on a desert island with a woman for a while, perhaps his female characters wouldn’t be so one-dimensional. Presumably having to depend on Lucetta’s superior skill in just about everything is meant to cure that problem, but he manages to be pretty condescending to the “little woman” even after she’s saved his life and proved to be a lot more resilient and level-headed than he is. Read the rest of this entry ?
This one is for those of you who like fluffy romances. Read the rest of this entry ?
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 ?
Well, I’ve found something I like, and it is terrible.
I suspect Miss Million’s Maid is the kind of book written for servant girls and such, although my only reason for thinking that is that the writing feels sort of cheap somehow. And then, Berta Ruck’s portrayal of the actual servant girl character isn’t terribly flattering. But hey, I have no idea what I’m talking about, so whatever.
Beatrice Lovelace and her Aunt Anastasia are the descendants of a ridiculously aristocratic family, but they have no money. And Aunt Anastasia is the snobbiest of snobs, so, because they can’t afford to associate with their own class, she won’t allow Beatrice to associate with anyone at all. The only people Beatrice speaks to are the maid, Million, and the attractive man who lives next door, who Aunt Anastasia insists must be a bounder and a cad, mainly because he lives in their neighborhood. Beatrice really wants someone to die and leave her a lot of money, but when someone in the house does inherit a fortune, it’s Nellie Million.
Million — Beatrice keeps forgetting to add “Miss” a the beginning — has no idea what to do with her money, so Beatrice becomes her lady’s maid, to the horror of Aunt Anastasia. She helps Million buy the right clothes. move to the right hotel, etc., but she can’t stop her from quickly falling in with a bad crowd — vulgar comedienne Vi Vassity, impoverished Irish younger son James Burke, a Jew (horrors!) and various other inappropriate people.
The Honorable James Burke, in particular, is very obviously a fortune hunter, although his personal inclination is more towards Beatrice than her employer. Beatrice, though, has another suitor to worry about — Reginald Brace, her boy next door, turns out to be the manager of the bank where Miss Million has opened an account. He quickly loses the sense of humor I thought he had and develops a passionate desire to take Beatrice away from her offensive surroundings.
Additional complications arrive in the form of a jewel robbery — Miss Million and Beatrice are the main suspects for fairly inadequate reasons — and Miss Million’s American cousin Hiram Jessup — he has come to England either to marry Miss Million, or, if that doesn’t work, to attempt to legally deprive her of her fortune. Meanwhile, Miss Million has fallen in love with Jim Burke, who continues to flirt with Beatrice whenever possible. It’s hard to blame her, though — Miss Million, I mean — because it’s very difficult not to like Jim Burke.
It’s a fun read, although the writing seemed lazy at times, and I still don’t understand why a Cockney girl brought up in an orphanage is so much more naive than a girl who has been reared in near-seclusion by a spinster aunt. I have other quibbles, too, but none of them really got in the way of my enjoyment of the book. It’s fluffy and silly, and one of those books that pretend to be enlightened about class issues but aren’t at all, and everyone ends up pretty happy, except for a rejected suitor and some people standing inconveniently in the way of a title.
I’m pretty sure Miss Million’s Maid has no literary merit whatsoever, but that’s no reason not to read it.
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 ?
From the Car Behind starts off really well, and I almost wish it hadn’t, because I wouldn’t have gotten so frustrated with it if I hadn’t liked the characters so much.
Allan Gerard is an executive at a car company — it’s called Mercury, but this was written before there really was a car company of that name — and he’s the usual romance/adventure hero, circa 1910: handsome, athletic, clean-cut, good-natured, and sensible. Also rich. He’s pretty much perfect, and I’m not quite sure how Eleanor Ingram manages to make him so likable. Or how someone like Jeffery Farnol manages to make essentially the same character profoundly irritating. Read the rest of this entry ?
The Melting of Molly is by Maria Thompson Daviess, whose last name really is spelled like that, and it was a bestseller in 1912.
The melting in question is a metaphorical description of Molly falling in love, of course, but it’s nominally meant to refer to weight loss. Molly Carter is a twenty-five year old widow, and this book is supposed to be her diary, written to keep track of her diet and exercise regimes.
Mr. Carter, dead approximately one year, was nobody particularly interesting–just someone Molly married after Al Bennett, the young man she was in love with, had gone off into the world to try and make a name for himself or something. That was when Molly was seventeen, and now Al Bennett, having heard that Mr. Carter is out of the picture, has started sending Molly love letters and talking about coming home. Apparently he expects to see her in the same dress she was wearing when he left, only that was eight years ago, and it doesn’t quite fit. And by “quite” I mean “at all.” Read the rest of this entry ?
I read Jane Abbott’s Happy House for the first time in May. It’s different from the other Abbott books I’ve read in that it’s aimed at a slightly older audience, and also in that…well, it seems a bit more formulaic. But I like it a lot.
The main character is a girl who has just graduated from college. Her name is Anne Leavitt, and so is that of her best friend, but the protagonist is usually called Nancy. The two Anne Leavitts, along with their other best friend, Claire, are packing when a porter arrives with a letter addressed to one of the Annes — they’re not sure which. After reading the invitation from Sabrina Leavitt to her niece, they conclude that it belongs to Anne, not Nancy, but Anne is just about to leave for Russia to do something vaguely humanitarian, so she persuades Nancy to go in her place. Read the rest of this entry ?
And a third Abbott story — I’m stopping now, I promise — Little Eve Edgarton. This one is kind of peculiar. The hero, Jim Barton, is very shallow, and the heroine, Eve, is kind of a social moron, although she knows how to do pretty much everything, from cataloguing fossils to reviving people who have bee struck by lightning to making muffins. It’s hard to understand why Eve is attracted to Barton, unless it is because she, too, is determined to be shallow, and almost impossible to understand why Barton is attracted to Eve. By the end of the book, I’m still not convinced that they’re in love with each other.
The illustrations are rather nice, though. Read the rest of this entry ?
So, I just read another Eleanor Hallowell Abbott story: Molly Make-Believe. And it’s a full-fludged romance novel this time — although a very small one — which is sort of not in its favor.
Molly Make-Believe tells the story of a winter in the life of Carl Stanton, a young businessman who is confined to his bed by his horrible rheumatism. He has recently become engaged to a girl named Cornelia, although it hasn’t been announced yet. Carl’s doctor is astonished to discover that Cornelia is going South for the winter in spite of the fact that Carl is ill, but, as Carl puts it, “Every girl like Cornelia had to go South sometime between November and March.” Read the rest of this entry ?
A while back Danielle at A Work in Progress posted a bunch of advertisementsfrom the back of a book that had been published in 1907. The most entertaining one was for a book by Molly Elliot Seawell called The Fortunes of Fifi. I said I’d look out for it, but somehow I never thought to look for it on Google Books ’til the other day. It’s there, freely downloadable as a pdf. I’m kind of entertained by the way they scan things for Google Books — they scan every single page, even the ones that haven’t got anything on them, so each illustration is followed by a blank page; the other side of the thicker, shinier paper used for the illustrations.
So, The Fortunes of Fifi is pretty entertaining. Fifi is a nineteen year-old actress working in a fourth-rate theater in Paris. It’s 1804, and Napoleon is just about to be crowned emperor.
Read the rest of this entry ?
I imagine that Zona Gale had fun writing Romance Island. Unfortunately, Gale’s idea of fun consists mainly of long winded descriptions of indefinable feelings and repeated assertions that love is cooler than an island full of fabulous food and clothing where people can vanish into the fifth dimension at will. I’ve never been in love, so I guess I can’t really judge, but I would venture to disagree. Which would you rather be, the princess of a secret island with submarines and airships (in 1906) living in a nifty castle on a mountain with rooms full of treasure and a crypt, or the wife of a reporter living in an apartment in New York? To be fair, the reporter is independently wealthy, and has a yacht and a manservant named Rollo who speaks in aphorisms, but still.