Archive for March 21st, 2007

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Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill

March 21, 2007

After my two recent disappointments with Romance Island and The Second Honeymoon, I decided to read a Stratemeyer Syndicate book next. There’s hardly anyone more reliable than Stratemeyer; by the time you’ve read a few of his productions you know exactly what to expect from the rest, and that’s not always such a bad thing.

So. Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill, by Alice Emerson AKA various employees of Edward Stratemeyer under a collective assumed name. I’d never read this one before, although I’ve read a bunch of the ones where she’s older. It’s the first in the series, so we learn how the orphaned Ruth comes to the Red Mill to live with her uncle, Jabez Potter. He’s the surly miser type, and I like him because when he softens toward Ruth at the end of the book, he doesn’t get any less surly or miserly — I don’t care much whether characters are good or bad. I just like them to maintain some kind of integrity.

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The Second Honeymoon

March 21, 2007

The Second Honeymoon, by Ruby Mildred Ayres, is another disappointing one. I mean, I like a story-extending romantic misunderstanding as much as the next person, but there’s got to be something else going on, too. And then, one misunderstanding can only take you so far unless you dither a lot. I frown upon dithering in fiction. Ayres does not. I read this after seeing an ad for it in the back of Little Old New York. I guess I’m going to be putting the other authors I found there on hold for a bit.

Jimmy Challoner is engaged to an actress named Cynthia Farrow. He passionately adores her. Unfortunately, he’s not all that well off — he’s dependent on his older brother, The Great Horatio. The Great Horatio is not a magician, but an invalid who mostly lives abroad and gives Jimmy a quarterly allowance. Several characters in this book comment on the fact that Jimmy could always, you know, go out and get a job, but since that’s dropped without really being resolved, we’re forced to assume that love is more important that paid employment. I mean, I get that love is more important than paid employment in novels like this, but you can’t just assume that it is; you have to make a case for it.

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