Posts Tagged ‘london’

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Hilda Wade, a Woman with Tenacity of Purpose

July 8, 2014

I never wrote anything about Hilda Wade, did I?

So, obviously I’m pretty into Miss Cayley’s Adventures. So into it that I was kind of terrified of reading anything else by Grant Allen, which is why Hilda Wade has been languishing on my Kindle (and then my other Kindle) for several years. I shouldn’t have worried, though. Hilda Wade is good and bad in almost exactly the same ways as Miss Cayley’s Adventures is good and bad. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Double Life of Mr. Alfred Burton

January 23, 2014

So, I read The Double Life of Mr. Alfred Burton, by E. Phillips Oppenheim, and…I kind of don’t want to talk about it. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Lodger

January 8, 2014

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 ?

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Pam Decides

September 4, 2012

I read Pam Decides, the sequel to Pam, on Sunday. A note at the beginning suggests that Pam was never intended to have a sequel, but I occasionally felt, as I read Pam Decides, that Pam existed for no other reason than to provide an excuse for one. Which isn’t true, but tells you a little bit about how I feel about both. I still like Pam, a lot, which is to say that I still find it frustrating and delightful and moving and difficult to describe. But my thoughts and feelings about Pam Decides are a little different.

When we last saw Pamela Yeoland, she had just been left penniless, homeless and friendless by the death of her grandfather. Her loving but neglectful parents were abroad somewhere. James Peele had proposed that Pam become his mistress after he married her cousin Henrietta, causing her to lose all respect for him. Eight years later, Pam’s 27th birthday finds her living in a boarding house in London with Jane Pilgrim, her old nurse, and making a scant living by writing romance novels. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Joseph Vance

August 15, 2011

It’s been more than two weeks now since I finished Joseph Vance, and I’m now slowly coming to the conclusion that I like it too much to write a review of it. It’s a shame, because it’s pretty awesome — like David Copperfield, only less squishy (and I mean that with all possible respect to David Copperfield).

When I read Somehow Good, I thought William de Morgan was secretly awesome. Now I think he’s criminally underrated.

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The Silver Dress

July 15, 2011

The Silver Dress felt like it was a very different book when it ended than when it started, but both were books I like, so I don’t really feel like complaining.

I’m tempted to compare the first part of the book to Cinderella, or the Ugly Duckling, but Eve Martindale isn’t really either. She’s wealthy, attractive, and well-bred, and she lives with a much-loved elderly aunt. She’s thirty-five and unmarried, and she doesn’t know any men socially, but she hasn’t got a problem with that. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Career of Katherine Bush

July 13, 2011

As if I needed another reason to think Elinor Glyn was awesome.

As usual, Glyn writes about the moneyed British upper class. Less usually, her heroine is a stranger to it. Katherine Bush is one of six children in a middle class family. Her father was an auctioneer, her mother’s father was a butcher, and her siblings are kind of embarrassingly unrefined, but Katherine is smart and driven, and she’s determined to raise herself to a better position.

We know she’s going to manage it, because Elinor Glyn wouldn’t have written the kind of book where she doesn’t, and it’s not like this is a totally unfamiliar plot, but The Career of Katherine Bush manages to be pretty exciting. It’s got that trademark Glyn combination: the gooiest possible romance mixed with total ruthlessness. And a bit more politics than you wanted. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Pollyooly books

October 21, 2010

So, I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to figure out what’s what in the world of Pollyooly.

First, there’s Pollyooly. Or, to be more specific, Pollyooly: a romance of long felt wants and the red haired girl who filled them. Then there’s Happy Pollyooly,  the rich little poor girl(The American title — in the UK it was The Second Pollyooly Book). That appears to follow directly on the first book. In it, Pollyooly is still twelve, and the Lump is three. A third book, Pollyooly Dances, takes place rather later, during World War I, when Pollyooly is 19, and it seems like there ought to be other stories in between. There are things that need explanations — the absence of the Lump, the absence of Lord Ronald Ricksborough, the presence of other characters who appear to have some history with Pollyooly and the Honorable John Ruffin, and any number of other things. But I can’t find that there was ever any other Pollyooly book.

Anyway, what I have found, with the assistance of Google Books, is three additional stories published in Pearson’s Magazine. They’re consecutive, and appear to follow directly on Happy Pollyooly.

This is everything I’ve found, in order.

Pollyooly: a romance of long felt wants and the red haired girl who filled them

Happy Pollyooly,  the rich little poor girl

“Pollyooly and the Red Deepings”

“Pollyooly and the Lump” (This story has no other title, which is odd, since it’s mostly about the Honorable John Ruffin.)

“The Course of True Love”

Pollyooly Dances

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Pollyooly: a romance of long felt wants and the red haired girl who filled them

October 19, 2010

For the past couple of days I’ve had the name “Pollyooly” stuck in my head. Hopefully now that I’ve finished the book, it will go away. Even if it doesn’t, though, it might have been worth it.

I’m theorizing, on pretty much no basis, that there are three kind of people who write about children: those who think they understand kids, those who understand kids a little bit, and those who know that they don’t understand them at all. The second kind is the best, in general, and the first is usually pretty bad. But there’s something to be said for the people who know that they don’t know, and that’s the category that Edgar Jepson falls into.

Not that Pollyooly is a children’s book, really. But it does center around a child, and Pollyooly, age 12, is a lovely kind of fictional child, smart and serious and essentially unfathomable, but not above making funny faces at people when the situation calls for it. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Miss Million’s Maid

October 5, 2010

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.

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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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