Posts Tagged ‘williamsons’

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The Adventure of Princess Sylvia / Princess Virginia

June 18, 2013

So, yeah, The Adventure of Princess Sylvia and Princess Virginia (the latter credited to both Williamsons, the former to Alice) are the same book. According to this advertisement, Sylvia is the original and Virginia is the revision. But, contrary to the advertisement’s assertion, it hardly qualifies as a new story.

Almost everyone’s names are changed, as are some nationalities. The Ruritanian country of Rhaetia retains its name, but its emperor is now Leopold rather than Maximilian. And Princess Virginia adds some American blood to Sylvia’s mix of English and German. Things are a little more up to date — it’s a different English monarch that provides the heroine and her mother with a home, and there’s a sprinking of automobiles in Virginia that aren’t present in Sylvia. The dialog is a little snappier (as Jenn pointed out), and there are places where the plot has been smoothed over a little, making it seem less as if A.M. Williamson made it up as she went along. If you’re going to read one of these, Virginia is better, but again: same book. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Girl Who Had Nothing

March 31, 2013

I know I’ve said before that no one ever should have let Alice Williamson publish without Charlie, but I think I’ve changed my mind. I’m still not a fan of To M.L.G., and Shay says that The Adventure of Princess Sylvia isn’t so good either, but I just finished The Girl Who Had Nothing and I’m really glad it exists. (For what it’s worth, while this book is credited solely to Mrs. C.N.Williamson, it was published while he was alive.) This book, though. It’s like a cross between Miss Cayley’s Adventures and The Career of Katherine Bush, and it’s not as good as either of those, but that just means that it’s not as good as the beginning of Miss Cayley or everything but the end of Katherine Bush. It’s better than the less good parts of both of those. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Motor Maid

March 11, 2013

Someday I’m going to run out of books by the Williamsons where some people go on a road trip through part of Europe and at least one person isn’t what they seem and someone falls in love with the chauffeur. And on that day I will be very sad.

The Motor Maid has some really, really great bits, but mostly I enjoyed it as a good example of the Williamsons’ mini genre. (Has anyone encountered one of these chauffeurs-and-sightseeing-and-incognito books written by anyone else?) See, on one hand there’s the beginning, which takes place on a train and has a rough parallel to the beginning of Miss Cayley’s Adventures and made me think I might be starting my new favorite Williamsons book, but on the other hand this might be the snobbiest Williamsons book ever. 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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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.

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Lord John in New York

January 11, 2012

The worst thing about terrible mystery novels — the kind where the hero judges everyone on the most shallow grounds imaginable, and every tenuous connection is treated as a solid deduction — is that you can make fun of the hero all you want for assuming the Egyptian guy he’s found in the phone book (apparently this is a phone book that sorts by nationality?) is the same mysterious Egyptian guy who might have upset the girl he’s fallen in love at first sight with, but in the end you know the hero is going to be proven right. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Reviews at EP: Lord Loveland Discovers America

August 8, 2011

Now up at Edwardian Promenade: Lord Loveland Discovers America, sequel to Lady Betty Across the Water.

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To M.L.G.; or, He Who Passed

June 13, 2011

I’m fascinated by anonymous novels. I love seeing ads in old Publisher’s Weeklys claiming that a new novel is written by a bestselling author who’s concealing his or her name to see how it’ll affect sales. I think it’s amazing that people used to be able to publish anonymous sequels to other authors’ books. When I can find it, I love speculation about who the real author might be.

To M.L.G.; or He Who Passed is an anonymous novel from 1912 that purports to be the autobiography of a successful American actress. She’s fallen in love with an Englishman, and he with her, but she’s scared to tell him about her somewhat disreputable past face to face, so she’s decided to publish it as a book instead. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Reviews at EP: The Lightning Conductor

October 10, 2010

My October guest post is up at Edwardian Promenade: The Lightning Conductor, by everyone’s favorite husband-and-wife novel-writing team, A.M. and C.N. Williamson.

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Strong Women?

August 18, 2010

A commenter on my post at Edwardian Promenade asked for recommendations of Edwardian Era novels with strong female characters. I thought I’d repost my reply here, along with a request for recommendations from you guys. There are undoubtedly not enough strong female characters in early 20th century popular fiction, but with our combined knowledge, I’m sure we can put together a longer list than this.

I have a few recommendations, none of which are exactly in the right period. I hope they help anyway.
The first book featuring Emma McChesney was published in, I think, 1915. Mrs. McChesney is probably the strongest character I’ve come across in early 20th century fiction, period.

A Woman Named Smith, from 1919, is one of my favorite books, mostly because the heroine, Sophy, discovers over the course of the book that she’s a lot stronger and more capable than she thought.

Lady Peggy O’Malley is from 1915-ish, and her book is in part a WWI one. Her family is horrible, but she rises above them, and retains her spunk and pluckiness almost until the last page.

Lois Cayley is a self-proclaimed adventuress from…sometime between 1895 and 1900. She becomes a maid, a bicycle advertisement, a typist, and a reporter, and although the book bogs down towards the end, the earlier parts make up for it.

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I hate posting to apologize for not posting

July 19, 2010

But that’s what this is.  I seem to have been focusing on the visual lately: art books, comic books, television shows, etc. Also I’ve been reading Nero Wolfe again, which I guess is always dangerous.

Can anyone tempt me back to the wonderful world of pre-1930 popular fiction? I’d love recommendations, especially for early motoring novels, like From the Car Behind, and most of the Williamsons’ output.

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A note on Williamsons

May 24, 2010

Can we talk about the Williamsons? I am getting frustrated. Too many of their books involve people disguising themselves as chauffeurs. And, on reflection, I don’t think I’ve read anything by them that didn’t involve anyone going incognito. It’s a problem.

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Lady Betty Across the Water

May 20, 2010

So, Lady Betty Across the Water is by the Williamsons, but for the second Williamson book in a row, I was constantly reminded of Elinor Glyn. And this time, it wasn’t just a general feeling of Glynishness: my major recurring thought was, “this happened in Elizabeth Visits America, didn’t it?”

The answer, for about fifty percent of the events of Lady Betty, is yes. But apparently Lady Betty came first. I’m…actually probably going to have to work at not resenting it for that. Not that Elizabeth Visits America is significantly better, or that I didn’t really enjoy Lady Betty. It’s just that Elizabeth so embodies the kind of character that she and Lady Betty both are, that Lady Betty is always going to seem like an imitation. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Port of Adventure

September 27, 2009

"Nick thought her adorable in her gray motor bonnet"

"Nick thought her adorable in her gray motor bonnet"

The Port of Adventure is mostly typical Williamsons — part romance, part travelogue, and a dash of adventure — but something about it leaves an Elinor Glyn-ish taste in my mouth. Maybe it’s the girl from Europe (sort of) traveling through the U.S., as in Elizabeth Visits America, or the unhappy marriage to a European prince, as in The Reason Why and Three Weeks, or the villainess’ generally Glyn-ish aspect, or the red-haired, green-eyed writer who seems like she could have been based on Glyn herself. So, yeah, there are lots of reasons, and much as I enjoy the Williamsons, they don’t compare well when they try to edge into Glyn’s territory. They don’t have her flair for melodrama, or the sharp sense of humor that makes it bearable.

Still, I got pretty invested in the relationship between princess-by-marriage Angela, traveling as a young widow, and former cowboy Nick, using his new oil fortune to see more of the country. They really do seem to have things in common, beyond both being rich and good-looking, but it’s hard to believe that two people can simultaneously instinctively understand each other and constantly misinterpret each others’ actions. Also, there’s a scene where Nick rescues Angela from stampeding cattle in the canary yellow car he named after her, which is probably the most hilarious thing ever to happen in a Williamsons book.

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More Christmas Stories

December 26, 2008

While I was away on vacation, I read four more Christmas stories: Little Maid Marian, by Amy Blanchard; The Christmas Child, by Hesba Stretton; Rosemary, by A.M and C.N. Williamson; and The Romance of a Christmas Card, by Kate Douglas Wiggin. And I think I have a pretty good idea now of what a Christmas Story is supposed to involve.

First, and most obviously, there is the moral. There is no point to a Christmas story without a moral. Usually the moral has to do with forgiveness.

Equally important is the happy ending, although there is a way around this: if your story is really miserable, you can get away with an ending that’s a bit of a downer.

There also seems to be a sort of age requirement. Apparently, by the beginning of the twentieth century, it was no longer acceptable to write a Christmas story about an old guy. Sorry, Scrooge. The protagonist must be either a small and adorable child, or a young man or woman of about the right age to be falling in love.

Finally, as much of the story as possible has to be set at Christmastime. But not necessarily the same Christmastime. I think of it as the fourth classical unity. This has become one of my favorite things about Christmas stories. I really like it when they skip from one Christmas to the next, and then spend half of the second one recounting what’s happened during the course of the year. Read the rest of this entry ?

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