Posts Tagged ‘maryrobertsrinehart’

h1

The Swimming Pool

August 26, 2013

So, obviously I don’t review things that are still under copyright very often, but MysteriousPress.com and Open Road Media have put out a whole slew of Mary Roberts Rinehart mysteries as ebooks, and I know for a fact I’m not the only one who’s run out of Rineharts to read at Project Gutenberg.

Open Road very kindly sent me an ebook of The Swimming Pool for review, and it’s kind of great, in a very specific, Rinehart during the ’40s and ’50s kind of way. There’s a specific formula you don’t get in her earlier mysteries, where the heroine is the youngest daughter of an old family, usually one whose lifestyle has changed dramatically over the last few decades. She’s usually in her late twenties, and when a man shows up to investigate whatever the mystery is, he’s also her love interest. The closest public domain example I can think of is Where There’s a Will — which I’ve never reviewed, but which is kind of similar to When a Man Marries in tone, but slightly less awesome.

Anyway, considered on its own merits, The Swimming Pool is pretty good. The heroine is Lois Maynard, and yes, she’s in her late twenties, and she’s the youngest daughter of the family, and they’ve definitely seen better times. There’s even a domineering mother, although she’s dead by the time the story begins. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Book sale haul, 5.11.13

May 11, 2013

This is the weekend of my favorite book sale. It’s  held by a small library upstate, very few books are over a dollar, and if you buy a $10 tote bag, you can take home as many books as will fit in it. And that, of course, is what I did.

image

It's hard to tell in the picture, but this is a really big tote bag.

I usually limit myself to as many books as I can carry in my hands, so when my arms started to hurt, I went to check out. But once I’d gotten my books into my bag, the woman at the counter said, “you know, there are more books in the other building.” That was my downfall.

Anyway, here are the things I got, in reverse order as I unpack.

image

I didn’t buy all the Nero Wolfe books — just the cuter, older paperbacks and In the Best Families because it’s In the Best Families. Apparently my cat likes Nero Wolfe too.

image

Not the Felix Salten one with the deer, but the Marjorie Benton Cooke one with the people. The woman who helped me check out said she heard it was pretty racy, which seems unlikely, but I told her I would be pleased if that turned out to be the case.

image

I keep meaning to try Mary Stewart. And at this point I had well over $10 worth of books, so these were basically free.

image

Some miscellaneous paperbacks–One Hundred  and One Dalmatians  because my copy is missing pages, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold because I can’t find my mom’s copy, and a romance by Meredith Duran for no reason at all.

image

This is the Mary Roberts Rinehart portion of the haul. All of these books are more battered than all of the other books, but who cares? I own a copy of K
now.

image

This is the Ethel M. Dell portion of the haul. I…own a copy of The Way of an Eagle now. So, uh, that’s a thing.

image

The last few miscellaneous things: Rose in Bloom, my favorite Alcott book I’ve never owned; Trustee from the Toolroom, which I buy whenever I find it so I can give it as a gift; and Brat Farrar, which I own a couple of times over, because this copy is super cute. I assume the girl in the sheet on the cover is Eleanor, but I don’t understand why.

h1

The Confession

July 20, 2012

Here’s an odd little Mary Roberts Rinehart mystery for you: The Confession. There are a lot of familiar elements here — a middle-aged spinster who has raised a niece and nephew, her alternately loyal and mutinous servant, a house rented for the summer — but it’s not The Circular Staircase and it’s not The Bat*. Nor is it as much of a mess as either of those, probably because it’s a lot shorter. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Long Live the King!

April 14, 2012

These days I mostly come home from work and sort of collapse. Which doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading — just that I haven’t taken the time to write down anything about the books. I’m trying to knock out my backlog this week, though. If you don’t see a post from me every day from now until Friday, that means I’ve failed. First up is Mary Roberts Rinehart’s Long Live the King!

Even knowing all the other things that Mary Roberts Rinehart can do — the funny short stories, the romantic ones, the adventurish novels, the suspenseful ones, the “had-I-but-known” mysteries, the novels that deal with social issues and modern society, the screwball comedies, etc. — I honestly never thought I’d see her try Ruritanian romance. But Long Live the King! exists, and is set in a vaguely Germanic country called Livonia, where our nine year-old main character, Ferdinand William Otto, is the Crown Prince. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The After House

March 27, 2012

The After House is, as a whole, the most creepy and suspenseful Mary Roberts Rinehart mystery I’ve read yet. Sometimes I get irritated with Rinehart’s inevitable had-I-but-knowns, but there are cases where it really works. If fits with the conversational style of When a Man Marries, for example. And somehow, in the Tish stories, it makes the various ridiculous things that befall Tish and her friends even funnier. And it works from the very beginning here, heightening your sense that whatever’s going to happen onboard the converted cargo ship Ella is going to be really, really bad.

And it is. Mary Roberts Rinehart is occasionally called the American Agatha Christie, but this isn’t a body in the library kind of mystery — it’s a bodies hacked up with an axe in various parts of the boat one.  Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Love Stories

March 24, 2012

I blame Eleanor for the amount of Mary Roberts Rinehart I’ve been reading lately. Every time I move on to something else, she tells me which Rinehart she’s reading and I get jealous.

Anyway, I read Love Stories last week. I was pretty sure I hadn’t read it before, but the first story seemed awfully familiar. It turns out I’d already read it in a magazine. But it holds up well. I mean, it’s Rinehart. Of course it does.

This book is kind of a precursor to the hospital romance comics from the 1970s that I read at my grandmother’s apartment when I was younger. All but the last two stories are set in hospitals, and all but the last one are romances. Lots of doctors and nurses. Lots of incidents recycled from or for K. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Window at the White Cat

March 15, 2012

I’ve been on a bit of a Mary Roberts Rinehart kick this week, starting with The After House and moving on to The Window at the White Cat and Love Stories. The Window at the White Cat is probably the least interesting of the three, falling into a mold I associate with Anna Katherine Green and Carolyn Wells, where some rich and/or important middle aged man is murdered at his desk and the lawyer-narrator ends up falling in love with the murdered man’s wife/daughter/niece/miscellaneous young and dependent woman. And I don’t have a problem with that; it’s just not very exciting. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Edwardian/WWI-era fiction at Edwardian Promenade

February 1, 2012

There have been a lot of articles and blog posts floating around lately about what to read if you’re into Downton Abbey. One in particular, which talked about Elizabeth von Arnim apropos of one character giving a copy of Elizabeth and Her German Garden to another, made Evangeline at Edwardian Promenade say, “hey, what about Elinor Glyn?” Which, obviously, is the correct response to everything. And then I read it, and thought, “yeah, Elizabeth and her German Garden was popular when it came out in 1898, but would people really be trying to get each other to read a fifteen year-old(ish) novel by a German author during World War I?” And then we decided that we could probably come up with an excellent list of Edwardian and World War I-era fiction that tied in the Downton Abbey. And so we did.

It’s a pretty casual list, mostly composed of things we came up with off the tops of out heads, a bit of research on Evangeline’s part and a bit of flipping through advertisements on mine, so we’re making no claims to be exhaustive. If you have suggestions for additions to the list, leave a comment.

h1

The Amazing Interlude

January 31, 2012

The Amazing Interlude is my new favorite World War I romance. I’m not sure I had one before, but whatever. Mary Roberts Rinehart is, as usual, great, and she has the added advantage of having made a trip over to Europe to check out the trenches and stuff, so she knows what she’s talking about. Not that The Amazing Interlude is as gruesome, serious and propagand-filled as Kings, Queens and Pawns, her account of what she saw at the front, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s light fiction with a high moral purpose, and as such it functions perfectly.

Sara Lee Kennedy, the heroine, lives in Pennsylvania with her aunt and her uncle. It’s the early days of the war, and most Americans are only vaguely concerned with it, but the more Sara Lee thinks about it, the more she feels that she needs to go over to Europe and do something to help, except that she’s not a nurse and she doesn’t know how she can be useful. After her uncle dies, Sara Lee’s fiancé, Harvey, wants to get married immediately — her aunt is moving in with a cousin, and Sara Lee needs to live somewhere. Harvey thinks that the war isn’t their concern, and that her interest in it is silly. The members of the Methodist Ladies’ Aid Society, on the other hand, are more like Sara Lee — they all feel a bit guilty that they’re not doing more to help. And that’s how Sara Lee convinces them to allow her a hundred dollars a month to go to Belgium and run a soup kitchen for soldiers at the front. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Reviews at EP: The Man in Lower Ten

February 19, 2011

February’s Edwardian Promenade guest post is on Mary Roberts Rinehart’s first mystery novel, The Man in Lower Ten. This is partly because I reread it when I was on that train murder kick earlier this month, and partly because I was just reading a (nonfiction) book in which Rinehart was continually being compared to Mary Higgins Clark, which seemed somewhat unfair.

h1

Bab: a Sub-Deb

September 8, 2010

For the first time, I have a real problem with Mary Roberts Rinehart. It has to do with her spelling.

No one really wants to read a book that’s misspelled all the way through. I mean, if you’re Daisy Ashford and you’re, like, eight, it’s excusable. But basically, unless you’re Russell Hoban, misspelling an entire book is don’t-try-this-at-home territory. And while Bab: a Sub-Deb is cute, Rinehart just…isn’t Russell Hoban, you know? Read at your own risk.

h1

K

September 8, 2010

People who have been reading this blog for a while can probably tell what my favorite things are: secret insane wives, ridiculously melodramatic situations written well, fictional famous people, rounded and sympathetic secondary characters, spontaneous human combustion, etc.

At this point, I believe Mary Roberts Rinehart can do pretty much anything. In the past week, I have read works by her including humorous short stories, serious short stories, a mystery novel, a funny novel, and a serious novel, and they were all thoroughly enjoyable.

K was the serious novel. It does not include spontaneous human combustion. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The House of a Thousand Candles

May 5, 2010

Circumstances conspired to make me compare The House of a Thousand Candles to The Circular Staircase. First, I started reading them at the same time–the Rinehart on my Kindle, the Nicholson on my phone. Then, when I googled Meredith Nicholson, I came up with an article on Michael Grost’s Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection that explicitly compared the two. So most of the time that I was reading the Nicholson book, I was thinking about Rinehart. And I was expecting Nicholson to compare pretty badly.

The thing I’ve always said about Mary Roberts Rinehart–at least to myself–is that her best quality is her sense of humor. And apparently Rinehart agreed, saying that the problem with her competitors was a lack of humor. Mike Grost offers The House of a Thousand Candles as an example of those humorless competitors, but I think he’s being a little unfair. I can think of much worse offenders. Anna Katherine Green, for one. But because of Grost’s piece, I was expecting House of a Thousand Candles to be pretty bad, so I ended up being pleasantly surprised–and that’s not a bad thing to be. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Circular Staircase

April 29, 2010

I decided after my second Mary Roberts Rinehart book that I was a fan, and The Circular Staircase is, I think, my fifth. It might be the first one I read about, though, because Rinehart is remembered primarily as the originator of the Had-I-But-Known school of mystery fiction, and The Circular Staircase is the prime example.

Had-I-But-Known mysteries are the ones with first person narrators who are constantly saying things like “I would never have gone if I knew then what I know now,” and “this would prove to be important later” and other irritating things along the same lines — things that are apt to make readers who are caught up in the story…un-catch. Please, someone, give me a better way to phrase that. Anyway, it’s a style I wouldn’t want to encounter in the hands of any author with less of a sense of humor than Rinehart. She mostly makes it work, but I don’t think many others could. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Christmas Stories: The Truce of God

December 22, 2009

So, it should come as no surprise that I think Mary Roberts Rinehart is awesome. And part of the reason for that is that she’s always at least a little bit surprising. I had no idea what to expect from The Truce of God, her Christmas story, and I’m not altogether sure what I think of it now, but I’m definitely impressed.

First of all, the Truce of God is a pretty cool thing to write about. During the eleventh century, the European nobility  were referred to as “those who fight” (as opposed to “those who work” and “those who pray”), because basically they spent most of their time fighting private wars against their neighbors (or their overlords’ neighbors). The church dealt with this in a few different ways. One was the Crusades. Another was the Truce of God. Basically, the Church said, “Hey, no one is allowed to fight on weekends anymore. Or Thursdays. Or Lent, etc.”  The Catholic Encyclopedia has a little more detail, if you’re interested (in general, it’s a good basic resource for medieval religious history). Read the rest of this entry ?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers