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Philippa

January 18, 2019

I’m always so impressed by Mrs. Molesworth. Not so much by her fantasy-tinged stuff for younger readers — the same grounded-ness that makes her other books so good drags her down there. But her more realistic books — mostly the ones for older girls — are so smart in such a light-handed, careful way, and even when I think I’m expecting it, I’m always a little surprised. They’re didactic — they’re very straightforwardly about learning to exist as a woman in the world — but not in the pejorative sense. They feel like very kind and human instruction manuals. And I have a lot of affection for instruction manuals. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Devil’s Cub

January 14, 2019

I read The Devil’s Cub, by Georgette Heyer, on Friday and Saturday, mostly with my feet up in front of a fire. That felt right, and picturesque, but also necessary, since the heating system was off and the house took a while to get comfortable again after we got it turned back on.

I’m pretty sure this is the third time I’ve read The Devil’s Cub. It’s not one of my favorite Heyers. I wasn’t crazy about it the first time I read it, I liked it a little better the second time, and this time was a different kind of experience because I was reading it knowing I was going to write about it.

The Devil’s Cub is a sequel to These Old Shades, which is a pseudo-sequel to The Black Moth, which I could have sworn I’d posted about, but I guess not. In The Black Moth, the hero and heroine are menaced by Tracy Belmanoir, Duke of Andover, AKA “Devil.” In These Old Shades, Tracy has been transformed into Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon, AKA “Satanas,” but he’s the same person, temporarily transported to Paris. There he meets and employs a boy who turns out to be a girl. Eventually he marries her. You know how it goes.

The Devil’s Cub takes place about 25 years later. Justin and Léonie’s son Dominic, Marquis of Vidal, has something of his father’s bad reputation. He eventually makes London too hot to hold him, and his father orders him to flee to the Continent. He makes a pit stop to pick up Sophia Challoner, the girl he’s been planning on making his mistress, but here things go (more) wrong. His letter to Sophia ends up in the hands of her much more virtuous older sister, Mary, and she takes Sophia’s place to save her virtue, assuming Vidal will send her home when he discovers the switch. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tell me what to read

January 9, 2019

I know these aren’t super clear or, um, well-lit, but: pick something out for me to read and review this weekend.

ETA: I have packed for the weekend. The Devil’s Cub and The Motion Picture Chums at Seaside Park are in my bag.

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Year in Books 2018

January 1, 2019

Meant to do this yesterday, but oops.

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When the Yule Log Burns

December 25, 2018

So, uh, hey. It’s been a while.

I’m really sorry for not posting for so long. I’m really sorry for missing Captain Blood Day. I tried to get something together but I just couldn’t do it. But I didn’t want to let Christmas pass without at least one Christmas story. And I’ve only got one, but, as luck would have it, the one story I read was kind of two.

Leona Dalrymple is pretty good at Christmas stories. Jimsy: The Christmas Kid and In The Heart of the Christmas Pines are exactly what Christmas stories should be. When the Yule Log Burns is…also many things a Christmas story should be, and I’m tempted to say that it’s my own fault I didn’t love it. Maybe I would too anxious to get something read and reviewed. Maybe I’ve read too many of these things before. And, you know, I like a predictable Christmas story. But this one (these ones) left me kind of bored. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spray on the Windows

July 20, 2018

The thing about Spray on the Windows (by J.E. Buckrose) is that I’ve only just admitted to myself, a month and a half after finishing it, that I don’t like it. I feel guilty about that, because it’s not bad. It’s just that Buckrose’s thesis is that no matter how much life sucks, it’s going to be okay if you’re with the person you love, and to prove that thesis, she has to make life suck pretty bad. For most of the book, this are sort of okay, but you know where it’s going, and “how unhappy is everyone going to be?” is my least favorite kind of suspense.

Our protagonist is Ann Middleton, who has just moved to the seaside town of Wodenscar to work for the wealthy and eccentric Mrs. Barrington. Mrs. Barrington has a nephew who Ann would like to marry, and he likes her, too — but not necessarily enough to offer her marriage. Then there’s Ann’s neighbor Stephen Finlay, poor and disgraced and possibly a bit of an obstacle to Ann marrying for money.

You get to stress through her romantic decisions, stress through her married life, and stress through some possibly supernatural deaths and near-deaths. It’s…not that much fun. But I suspect that if I was a little less prone to anxiety, I would have liked it a lot more.

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Empty Hands

June 22, 2018

Robert Endicott, early in Arthur Stringer’s Empty Hands, compares his employee Shomer Grimshaw to a Diesel engine, efficient and emotionless, and wonders who would win out if Grimshaw had to deal with Endicott’s modern, spoiled daughter Claire. As a reader, you know what this signals: they will meet, and probably fall in love, and we’ll find out just how human Grimshaw can be. And I guess we do, but — and I suspect Stringer didn’t intend this — the answer is “not very.”

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