Archive for August, 2008

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Fairy Prince and Other Stories

August 31, 2008

I hadn’t really meant to read another Eleanor Hallowell Abbott book just yet, but I was looking at Project Gutenberg’s list of this week’s updates, and the first item on the list was Fairy Prince and Other Stories. Short stories are nice because they require such a small commitment, and I thought I would read one or two in order to take a break from Peter and Jane, but then, of course, I ended up reading the whole thing.

The title is somewhat misleading, because all the short stories are about the same family ( Mother: has brown eyes; Father: likes tulips; Rosalee, 17: is pretty; Carol, male, 11: is dumb — literally; Ruthy, 9: is a terrible narrator) and take place in chronological order. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Long time no update

August 28, 2008

I haven’t updated Redeeming Qualities much recently, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. Things keep getting in the way, like the Olympics, with which I was obsessed for about a week (and then the swimming ended). I’m also trying to catch up on some TV shows before the new season starts. I’m still reading — I’m always reading — but I’ve been reading more modern things, like a few novels and novellas by Connie Willis, and working my way through a collection of Agatha Christie etexts. The Christies are old enough to review here, but certainly not obscure enough, and after all, what is there to say about an Agatha Christie mystery after the first five or ten?

I have a few things I’m planing to post about in the near future. I’m working my way through a book by Sarah McNaughtan called Peter and Jane, which is alternately fascinating and mystifying (in a boring way), and I want to do a post about Jerome K. Jerome, but I’ve decided to finish Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow before I reread Three Men in a Boat. I also recently started a Mary Roberts Rinehart book called Dangerous Days, but I stopped reading it because I suspected that the only likeable character was about to be murdered. I do intend to finish it soon, though. And then, I haven’t read any Carolyn Wells books in a while, and I really do have to finish writing about the Patty books.

Meanwhile, I do read the comments people leave, though not as often as a I should, and as several people have found recently, I’m always happy to talk about Patty Fairfield, or anythign else I’ve written about here. I mean, I mostly started this blog in the hopes of finding someone to talk about A Woman Named Smith.

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The Little Iliad

August 5, 2008

A while back I found a really good bunch of advertisements  in the back of a Carolyn Wells  mystery novel–maybe The White Alley?–one of which was for The Little Iliad, by Maurice Hewlett. The ad was particularly funny because it promised both a modern retelling of the Iliad and a happy ending. I came across a copy of the book at the place where I was staying this weekend, and in spite of a full complement of family reunion-y activities, I managed to finish it before we left on Sunday morning.

I started off by not liking it much. There was a friend-of-the-main-character sort of narrator, which often turns out badly–that kind of character is so often a nonentity, and an excuse to use first-person narration in a story that doesn’t want it. The main character he was friends with was Hector, and aside from the danger of naming characters after their Greek and Trojan counterparts, he looked like he might be really annoying.

And then it turned out all right. Hector is kind of silly, but the narrator is well aware of that–it is clear that he knows all of Hector’s faults, and while he is very fond of him, he doesn’t take him too seriously. From which it will be obvious that the narrator is a pretty decent character too, and he becomes involved enough in the story that he isn’t just a narrator of events, but a participant. As for the naming thing, the Helen character is named Helena and the Paris character’s name begins with a P, but that’s it. And the story doesn’t adhere too closely to the Iliad, although that was obvious from the promise of a happy ending. Read the rest of this entry ?