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The Blue Envelope

July 19, 2007

I haven’t updated much lately because I’m taking a couple of classes up at Columbia and they provide me with lots of reading. I haven’t had much time to read things for fun, let alone write about them. But there’s always more time for reading than writing, and I’ve built up a backlog of books (which sounds nicely alliterative, don’t you think?).

One of them is The Blue Envelope, by Roy J. Snell. I have a hard time describing this book. It wasn’t at all what I expected from the title, or even what I expected after reading the introduction. Actually, it wasn’t what I expected after having read half the book, which was, you know, somewhat disconcerting.

Marian and Lucile are teenage cousins who live in Alaska. Marian is a really good artist, and enjoys drawing Eskimos. It’s not really clear if there;s anything special about Lucile — sometimes she teaches school; sometimes she herds reindeer. They have adventures. So does a college boy called Phi Beta Ki. They’re vaguely connected with him because Marian spends some time running a post office and takes care of the titular blue envelope for him, but really, that plot is pretty much irrelevant. The girls and the boy are briefly teamed up, but they spend a lot more time apart and aren’t even particularly good friends. really, the book is episodic. The girls take their boat back from some guys who stole it, rescue a little boy, escape from some wolves, and attempt to cross the Bering Strait. The events are only very loosely connected.

It’s a nice book, I guess. The individual bits are well done. But it really did need something to unify, and the mystery of the blue envelope doesn’t cut it.

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