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Evelina’s Garden

August 10, 2015

I don’t know how I feel about Evelina’s Garden, by Mary Wilkins Freeman. It feels so self-consciously quaint and historical, and no one has a personality.

There’s this girl, and she likes this guy, but she’s too shy or proud ot something to admit it, so she becomes a recluse whose only interest is her garden, and he reluctantly marries someone else but remains secretly devoted to Evelina.

Then along comes her niece, who looks just like her, and his son, who’s bettered himself enough to be a plausible partner for a woman from a slightly higher class, and despite neither of them having the faintest idea of how to interact with other humans, they become secretly engaged. Then Evelina the elder dies, leaving everything to her namesake–as long as she never marries and always takes good care of the garden. At which point Evelina the younger’s young man breaks off their engagement in a fit of misplaced nobility.

I guess I actually know exactly how I feel about Evelina’s Garden: I was a lot more concerned about the garden than I was about the fate of the lovers.

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The Rain-Girl

August 6, 2015

So, I should have written about Herbert George Jenkins’ The Rain Girl a couple of weeks ago, when I read it. I looked it up after Tasha gave it a good review on The Project Gutenberg Project because I obviously like Jenkins (actually I haven’t written about him much, have I? Searching my blog, I’m seeing no John Dene, no Malcolm Sage, no Bindle…) but halfway through I started wondering if we were reading the same book. Richard Beresford, the protagonist, isn’t as charming as he or anyone else thinks he is, and his pursuit of a young woman he’s barely met seemed creepy and borderline insane. Like, in that slightly unhinged Eleanor Hallowell Abbot way.

I said that on Twitter–that his attempts to track her down were creepy–and Tasha replied that he has to find the girl somehow, but I disagreed. I would have been pleased for her if he hadn’t found her.

Things change somewhat when the girl, Lola Craven, reappears. Beresford still bugged me, but she seemed to genuinely like him, and the heroine throwing herself at an oblivious hero isn’t something I see too often.

And here’s the thing: by the time the book ended, I was rooting for them. I was even charmed. And I don’t remember why. All I’ve retained is my completely justifiable lack of warmth for the main character.

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Mavis of Green Hill

July 30, 2015

It’s been way too long since I posted anything, so, um…let’s see. The last book I finished was Mavis of Green Hill, by Faith Baldwin. I enjoyed it, but I might have enjoyed it more as several books–three, at minimum. I liked each part individually, but by the time the book ended I was exhausted and glad that it was over. And, I mean, I get the impulse. When you’ve got a story in your head, there’s a temptation to put down all the parts you know about. But sometimes that’s too much, and as an author, you probably really don’t want to wear your readers out. Or maybe you do? Who knows. Read the rest of this entry »

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Play the Game!

June 17, 2015

I’ve been having a really hard time writing about Play the Game! by Ruth Comfort Mitchell, and I don’t know why. I liked it but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t what I expected. And that’s the way I feel about a lot of books that I have no trouble writing about.

So there’s this girl, Honor Carmody. She’s kind of tomboyish and motherly at the same time. She’s got a stepfather who’s not super relevant to the plot, but who is easily the most enjoyable character. She’s got a boy-next-door best friend, Jimsy King. She does a lot of his schoolwork for him so he can continue to be a football star, but it feels supportive on her side rather than exploitative on his. Also, Jimsy comes from a notoriously wild family, and everyone expects that at some point he will develop an alcohol problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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Linda Lee, Incorporated

June 9, 2015

Sometime I’d like to read a book set in the silent film industry that’s not full of drug addiction and divorce and debt, and Linda Lee, Incorporated definitely isn’t it. But it does have a wealth of detail about how movies got made circa 1922, and it doesn’t take too many offensive moral stances on its characters’ behavior, so I’ll take it. It also doesn’t have much in common with The Lone Wolf, the only other book I’ve read by Louis Joseph Vance. He, as you may remember, was the one who spontaneously combusted. Or not, I guess, but, you know, let’s just say he did. Read the rest of this entry »

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Old-Dad

June 1, 2015

There’s a range of weirdness levels in books by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott. Molly-Make-Believe reads like it was written by someone who doesn’t not know what to do with a coordinating conjunction. The White Linen Nurse is full of mental breakdown-y things, but in context they sort of work. If you told me the only kinds of punctuation used in The Fairy Prince and Other Stories were periods and exclamation marks, I would want to double check before I told you you were wrong. And Old-Dad makes no discernible sense. I’m not really sure what else to say about it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shorty McCabe

May 26, 2015

Shorty McCabe is no Torchy, but sometimes that’s okay, like when you stop your Torchy reread before the last book because the dog stories make you inexplicably uncomfortable, and switch over to an excellent children’s book about pirates and then a super weird Eleanor Hallowell Abbott book, but then you sort of start to have regrets? But you can’t go back to Torchy as a Pa, because you can’t start a Torchy reading with Torchy living in the suburbs; you have to work up to that. Read the rest of this entry »

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