Posts Tagged ‘romance’

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The Year of Delight

April 14, 2014

Mel happened to be reading this one when I said I wanted a Cinderella book, and something that was like The Blue Castle but wasn’t The Blue Castle, and recommended it. And Margaret Widdemer’s The Year of Delight is very definitely both of those things, and if Margaret Widdemer can’t stop her characters from coercing each other into being married…well, it bothers me a lot less when the person being coerced is the man. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Flaming June

November 30, 2013
Because why not?

Because why not?

This post is brought to you by my tendency not to think things through before I write about them.

So, the thing about Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey is that she was lousy at endings. Like, she’s so good at putting prickly characters in twisty emotional situations and still having everything be super charming, but then the end is always a cop-out, or rushed, or suddenly makes you hate all the characters you loved for most of the book. Anyway, I read a review of one of her books at Fleur in her World the other day, and Fleur had the same issue with the last 10% of the book, but her praise for the first 90% made me want to read something by Mrs. G. de H.V., because when she’s good, she’s very, very good. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Captain Blood Day: The Romantic Prince

September 19, 2013

So, Captain Blood Day. Yay!

Actually, though, I completely forgot about it until last week, so instead of thinking seriously about which Sabatini book I might want to talk about next, I just grabbed The Romantic Prince off my bookshelf. I read it once before — whenever Batman Begins came out, if the ticket stub I was using as a bookmark is any indication — and I recalled being pretty pleased with it.

If you’ve spent any significant amount of time reading Redeeming Qualities, you’ll know that I’m kind of fascinated by the way novelists solve problems. In particular, there’s a thing you get a lot in romance and adventure novels, where the hero is situated in such a way that it would be dishonorable for him to take any action whatsoever to resolve whatever issue he’s having. And often, as it is here, the issue is mostly just that the hero can’t be with the heroine. And sure, I love the resultant pining, but I also love watching the author’s resultant struggle to steer the characters to a happy ending without in any way impugning their honor. That’s Rafael Sabatini’s principal task in The Romantic Prince, so obviously it’s a lot of fun to me. It doesn’t hurt that the actual barriers keeping Count Anthony of Guelders and Johanna Claessens apart are strong enough that Sabatini doesn’t have to resort to the completely avoidable misunderstandings he seems to like so much. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Affair at the Inn

September 10, 2013

The Affair at the Inn is unusual in two ways: first, it’s a collaborative novel that isn’t a trainwreck. The four main characters are written by four different writers, and I didn’t finish the book with a sense that the writers hated each other, or that the plot at the end was hastily patched together from the ruins of what it was originally meant to be. Second, it’s sort of Williamsonian (alternating points of view, traveling American heiress, Scottish baronet with an automobile) but without anyone traveling incognito. Nothing else about it was unusual, but almost everything about it was very nice. Read the rest of this entry ?

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That Pretty Little Horsebreaker AKA Pretty Kitty Herrick the Horsebreaker

September 6, 2013

I’m not actually sure whether to refer to this book by Mrs. Edward Kennard as That Pretty Little Horsebreaker or Pretty Kitty Herrick the Horsebreaker. They’re both listed as being published in 1891, and if the latter has many times more Google results, I’m pretty sure that’s only because it’s the one that’s available as an ebook. Under either title, I’m pretty pleased with it — even though I was slightly overwhelmed by horsiness. I was never super into horses as a kid, but I did read Black Beauty and at least one Black Stallion book and several series books involving young people and horses, and I’m still able to state unequivocally that this is the horsiest book I have ever read. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Wired Love

July 30, 2013

A friend linked me yesterday to a blog post about Wired Love, an 1880 novel by Ella Cheever Thayer that seems to have been making the rounds of the tech blogs lately. And yes, its telegraph romance evokes internet romances of today, and yeah, if I had a tech blog I’d probably write about it too. But I have a blog on public domain popular fiction, and I’m writing about it for an entirely different reason: it’s delightful. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Just Sweethearts

December 24, 2012

Just Sweethearts, by Harry Stillwell Edwards, is subtitled “a Christmas Love Story,” but it’s not really a Christmas story at all, although it does make a halfhearted stab at the Unity of Christmastimes. It starts with a Christmas Eve meet cute, and ends the following Christmas Eve. I suspect the subtitle was mostly an excuse to publish an edition with a fancy Christmas-themed binding.

Two years ago I spent a day in December at the library and read all the Christmas stories I could get my hands on, plus this. I promptly forgot the title, but I’ve thought of it from time to time over the past couple of years, and when I finally figured out what it was, I reread it to see if I could figure out why it was so memorable, and whether it was as terrible an excuse for a Christmas story as I remembered. And it was definitely the latter, but the former still has me stumped. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Set in Silver

August 15, 2012

After two extremely unsatisfying books, I was beginning to wonder whether I really liked fluffy romances or if I’d just been imagining it. Fortunately, there was a third, less unsatisfying book sitting on my shelves. Read the rest of this entry ?

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He Comes Up Smiling

August 13, 2012

It makes me a little bit sad when I read something light and fluffy and slightly absurd and I don’t like it very much. Part of it is that these books exist for no other purpose than to be fun, so it’s disappointing when they don’t quite get there. The other part is that I feel like there’s something wrong with me for not connecting with these books, like the fact that I didn’t have fun reading them means I’m not fun. I want to enjoy them — I try so hard to enjoy them — but the fact remains that probably two out of three silly, fun books leave me cold, and that I have a secret fear that that third book will never arrive.

This past week, I started with He Comes Up Smiling, by Charles Sherman. It’s about a tramp, which is kind of cool; you don’t get tramps as romantic heroes too often. And I found it really charming for a couple of chapters, as the Watermelon hung out with his hobo friends and really enjoyably scammed a barber. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Diane of the Green Van

April 19, 2012

In 1913, a Chicago publishing house called Reilly & Britton offered a $10,000 prize for the best manuscript submitted to them. About five hundred manuscripts were submitted, and eventually it was announced that Leona Dalrymple (later the author of Jimsy: the Christmas Kid) had won the prize for her novel Diane of the Green Van. She had also submitted another manuscript to the competition, and they were going to publish that, too.

So, is Diane of the Green Van worthy of the prize? Not having seen the other manuscripts, I obviously can’t judge, but this one? Is insane. Read the rest of this entry ?

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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 ?

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The Yoke

March 4, 2012

In a comment on my last post, Tracey suggested I read The Yoke, by Hubert Wales, because, like The Career of Katherine Bush, it features a woman who has premarital sex and doesn’t get punished for it. So I did.

It’s an astonishing book, especially for 1908. It’s also a super creepy one, for any time.

See, Angelica is forty, gray haired and still beautiful. She never married because the man she was in love with died of cancer during their engagement. His son, Maurice, is now twenty-two, and having a hard time stopping himself from having sex with prostitutes, so Angelica starts sleeping with him for his protection.

According to Hubert Wales, this is how the world works: young men, unable to control their sexual desires, sleep with prostitutes. Then they get STDs and their lives are ruined. To be fair, he allows Angelica to have sexual desires too, and that’s great. Here’s the catch, though: Angelica has raised Maurice since he was two. For all intents and purposes — except genetic ones — she’s his mom.

Everyone feeling uncomfortable? Okay, let’s move on. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Four books by Inez Haynes Gillmore

February 25, 2012

Say hi to Inez Haynes Gillmore. I know some of you are familiar with her, but I suspect most of you are not. She could easily be your new favorite author. She’s pretty good. But mostly what she is is versatile.

I read a book of hers the other day called Gertrude Haviland’s Divorce. It made me re-examine three of Gillmore’s other books, just because it seemed so unlikely that they all could have come from the same person. So, there’s Gertrude Haviland, a divorce novel — and please don’t try to tell me that’s not a genre, because I won’t listen — and then there’s an adorable children’s book, a fluffy romance/adventure/ghost story/paean to old furniture, and a disturbing, bloody, and terrifyingly upbeat allegorical feminist fantasy. All of them are, in their separate ways, perfect. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Cinderella Jane

November 25, 2011

Cinderella Jane, by Marjorie Benton Cooke, has a lot of things in it that I love. The quiet girl who cleans all the artists’ studios turns out to be awesome! And beautiful! The hero is kind of a dork! The heroine and this girl who was in love with the hero become best friends! He/she fell in love with his/her wife/husband! A wife in a mental institution! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Patricia Brent, Spinster

November 17, 2011

Here goes possibly the nicest of the reader recommendations from week before last. Thank you Mark; I am exceedingly grateful.

I tend not to deal well with characters who seem to go out of their way to mire themselves in difficulties, but Patricia Brent, Spinster — by Herbert George Jenkins — did it so charmingly that I can’t really bring myself to complain. The title character overhears some of the catty older women at her boarding house gossiping about her — and, incidentally, adding a few years to her age — and tries to get back at them by casually referring to a fiancé over dinner that night. She’s not ready for the questions they throw at her, and she ends up being a lot more specific about the fake fiancé than she intended. Like, to the point of making up a name, rank and regiment for him. This is sort of embarrassingly awkward, obviously, and then it gets worse. Patricia goes out to dinner the following night for a nonexistent date with the fictional Major Brown and some of her fellow boarders follow her, which, a) aren’t you glad you’re not friends with them? and b) things are now acutely, humiliatingly awkward. Read the rest of this entry ?

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