Posts Tagged ‘maryjaneholmes’

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Christmas Stories: Christmas Stories

December 14, 2011

It’s not as if I needed another reason to like Mary Jane Holmes, but I’m grateful to her for creating the need for this subject line, which may be my favorite ever.

I wish she had a better grasp of her subject matter, though.  I’m not talking about stories like “Adam Floyd,” a straightforward but tense religious romance, or “John Logan,” a fairly cute story of a young couple renovating their house that could do with some more hijinks. I don’t know that I’m even talking about “Red-Bird,” the story of a Floridian bird who, after being captured and caged for a year, returns home to find that her family and friends have moved on with their lives. There was a bit of Christmas in that one, but I don’t know if it’s meant to  be a Christmas story — and that’s kind of the problem with the ones that are meant to be Christmas stories. It seems a little bit as if Holmes, when she said “Christmas stories,” meant “stories with Christmas in them,” which isn’t the same thing at all. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Darkness and Daylight

March 31, 2011

It’s Mary Jane Holmes time again, and if you like her, you’ll like this. Darkness and Daylight has a special claim on my affections, because it features a Secret Insane Wife, and obviously that is my favorite, favorite thing. But this is a book for connoisseurs of fictional coincidence as well as connoisseurs of fictional insane wives, and I like to think that I’m both. I mean, I suppose it’s not too strange that the Massachusetts estate Grace Atherton inherits from her elderly husband is next door to the childhood home of Richard Harrington, the man she jilted when she was a teenager in England. Or that Harrington reencounters the little Swedish girl he saved from drowning in Germany that one time. Or that Arthur St. Claire falls in love with his wife’s long-lost half-sister who is supposed to be dead, although that’s pushing it a little. But that all three should be true in one book? Or that the Swedish girl (Eloise Temple) and the long-lost sister (Marguerite Bernard) are one and the same, and that Grace Atherton adopts her from an orphanage in New York under the name of Edith Hastings? That’s almost more than I can deal with. Although, to be fair, “almost more than I can deal with” is Mrs. Holmes’ specialty. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Dora Deane

March 29, 2009

Although I’ve read Tracy Park about four times and love it to a degree that is truly silly, I never read anything else by Mary Jane Holmes. Part of it was just laziness, but I think it was also because I was worried that her other books wouldn’t be as enjoyable, and that I’d be disappointed. Now that I’ve read Dora Deane, however, I no longer have to worry. That’s not to say that Dora Deane is anywhere near as awesome as Tracy Park. It’s not. And it’s different in a lot of ways, many of which I think are due to its having been written thirty years earlier. But Mrs. Holmes still pushes all the right buttons. I think she appeals to my worst instincts as a reader, and I kind of love it. Dora Deane owes a lot to The Wide, Wide World, what with its pretty orphan who is sent to live with her aunt after her apparently perfect mother dies, but where Ellen Montgomery’s story was all about cultivating a certain kind of moral and religious strength, Dora Deane is pure melodrama. Read the rest of this entry ?

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One Year of Redeeming Qualities

March 10, 2008

Last week was the one-year anniversary of this blog. I still enjoy writing about weird old books. I’m a little bit impressed that I’ve managed to keep it going for so long. I don’t know that there’s much else to say about it, but I thought I should do something to celebrate, so here’s a list of my favorite finds since I began writing Redeeming Qualities, in order of discovery.

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Tracy Park, 11/11

April 26, 2007

I don’t know why Jerrie and Harold think everyone will be surprised that they’re engaged. They’re the only two characters in the book that didn’t realize they were in love with each other, and when they announce that they’re going to be married, everyone tells them so. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tracy Park, 10/11

April 10, 2007

It’s been a while since I updated, I know. Sadly, sometimes schoolwork has to take precedence. When we last saw the characters of Tracy Park, Jerrie was convalescing, Maude was still pretty sick, and Harold had gone to Tacoma, WA on business for Billy Peterkin. Arthur was off on the west coast, hoping to meet with highwaymen or something. Jerrie had just learned that Harold was suspected of stealing Mrs. Tracy’s diamond’s ten years previously — and hey, that’s what comes of not clearing him of suspicion properly in the first place — and in spite of the fact that she’s not quite well yet, she immediately got up and set out for the park house.
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Tracy Park, 9/11

April 5, 2007

Just after Jerrie discovers the bag and the diamonds, Harold comes along on the way to the train station. She shows him the diamonds.

Harold: Mrs. Tracy’s diamonds!

Jerrie: Yes, Mrs. Tracy’s diamonds.
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Tracy Park, 8/11

April 4, 2007

The next day, Jerrie gets a note from Anne Eliza, telling her about Tom and the sprained ankle and asking her to come around to lunch. After she’s been there a while, Tom shows up, mostly because Maude told him it would be polite. He means to stop by and ask after her, but when the maid tells her that he’s there, Ann Eliza asks him to come in, in spite of the fact that this is very inappropriate, especially considering that one of Ann Eliza’s feet is bare. Tom cheers up a lot when he sees that Jerrie is there, so he’s nice instead of bratty, and all three of them have a good time.

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Tracy Park, 7/11

April 3, 2007

After the boys leave, Jerrie goes to Tracy Park to see Maude, who has been coughing up blood or something. When she gets there she runs into Frank, who is looking very prematurely aged these days. He takes her to Arthur’s room before Maude’s because he promised Arthur that he would visit Gretchen’s picture every day and tell her that Arthur will be coming back. I guess it’s true when people say that Frank is getting to be as crazy as his brother.
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Tracy Park, 6/11

April 2, 2007

Nine years pass. Jerry spells her name “Jerrie” now, which I think is kind of stupid, so I’m going to continue spelling it with a ‘y’. The spelling of her name in the book isn’t all that consistent anyway. She’s grown tall and graceful, and she’s very beautiful, but not spoiled. She’s nineteen and she’s about to graduate from Vassar. Harold is a graduate of Harvard, where he worked to support himself so he wouldn’t have to borrow any more than was necessary from Arthur. He was valedictorian of his class, and Jerry and Maude went to see him graduate.

Maude’s health isn’t so good. She went to Vassar when Jerry, Nina St. Claire, and Ann Eliza Peterkin did, but Maude’s not that bright, so pretty soon she left. She and her mother went abroad for a couple of years, but now they’re back home, and Maude is a bit of an invalid.

Jerry’s in love with Harold, which isn’t terribly surprising. Maude is also in love with Harold, and is really obvious about it, i.e. everyone knows but Harold. Harold is in love with Jerry, of course, but neither of them has said anything to the other about it, and Jerry thinks Harold loves Maude.
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Tracy Park, 5/11

April 1, 2007

On the way home from the park house, Jerry says that she knows where the diamonds are, but she isn’t going to tell. Harold doesn’t really notice because he’s kind of preoccupied. Something must stick though, because he suddenly remembers it nine years later.

Before she goes to bed that night, Jerry asks Harold what will happen to the person who stole the diamonds. Harold says that they’ll go to prison. This is his description of what they do to people in prison: “Cut their hair off; make them eat bread and water and mush, and sleep on a board, and work awful hard.”
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Tracy Park, 4/11

March 31, 2007

links to parts one, two, three.

So now Jerry has been living with Harold and Mrs. Crawford for two years. They’re poor, but they’re happy, and with Frank’s three dollars a week, they manage okay and Mrs. Crawford doesn’t have to work so much anymore, which is good because she’s getting old and her rheumatism is pretty bad. Harold is twelve and Jerry is six, and they adore each other. Jerry is a beautiful little girl, and Harold and the other twelve year old boys in the neighborhood want to kiss her all the time. She lets Harold and Dick St. Claire kiss her, but she avoids Tom Tracy and Billy Peterkin.
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Tracy Park, 3/11

March 30, 2007

Links to parts one and two.

There’s an abandoned cottage on the grounds of Tracy Park. It’s called the Tramp House because tramps often sleep there, and when Arthur Tracy came home, Frank suggested they have it torn down. But Arthur is kind, and when he hears that tramps sleep there, he doesn’t try to get rid of them. Instead, he puts in a new door and windows so that the tramps will be more comfortable. Isn’t that cool?

The morning after the storm, Mrs. Crawford’s rheumatism is pretty bad, so she sends Harold for the doctor. On the way, he stops to take a look at the Tramp House, having seen a light there the night before. Inside, on the table that’s the only piece of furniture there, is the dead body of a woman. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tracy Park, 2/11

March 30, 2007

Link to part one.

So, it’s 7:30, and the Peterkins are the first to show up because they’re uncultured and don’t understand the concept of being fashionably late. Harold does his job, which is to stand at the top of the stairs and say “ladies this way, and gentlemen that way,” but, again, the Peterkins are uncultured and don’t understand, and so Mrs. Peterkin goes the wrong way and Harold has to go take her wraps out of the mens’ dressing-room and put them in the women’s, leading to an accusation of theft later on. Harold is suspected of stealing diamonds three separate times during this book, which is kind of excessive, I think.

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Tracy Park, 1/11

March 30, 2007

Tracy Park, by Mary Jane Holmes, is perhaps my favorite of the books I’ve discovered online. I’m not really sure why that is, because I can’t really think of anything that makes it special, but I’m ridiculously fond of it and I’ve read it quite a few times now.

Frank and Arthur Tracy are brothers. They’re not well off, but they have a wealthy uncle, after whom Arthur is named. Frank marries a young woman named Dolly, and they’re quite poor, but they love each other and they’re pretty happy. Then the uncle dies and leaves all his money to Arthur. Frank and Dolly aren’t too happy about this, but Arthur buys a grocery store for them to run, and they’re better off than they were before. Meanwhile, Arthur moves to Tracy Park, the deceased uncle’s home, and sets himself up as a model gentleman. And he’s naturally aristocratic and generous and stuff, so everyone likes him. He spends most of his time with his best friend, Harold Hastings, and they live at the Park House with the housekeeper, Mrs. Crawford, and her daughter Amy.
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