Archive for November, 2008


The Diamond Coterie, by Lawrence Lynch

November 26, 2008

"Constance Wardour, you love Clifford Heath."

So, The Diamond Coterie was kind of awesome, and shall henceforth be enshrined in my heart, but it’s hard to know what to say about it, because there was a lot going on. There were a lot of characters, any of whom might turn out to be a detective in disguise, and a number of intertwined plots, although it was hard to say how many because the reader is never given the full confidence of any character.

We arrive in the small city of W—- on a day when two events have upset the richest and most aristocratic families in town. Miss Constance Wardour, an heiress who lives with her aunt Mrs. Aliston, has been robbed of her famous collection of diamonds. Sybil Lamotte, her best friend and the daughter of prominent businessman Jasper Lamotte, has eloped with John Burrill, a local ne’er-do-well with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The Lamotte family also includes the haughty Mrs. Lamotte, Evan — age about 20 — the alcoholic, and Frank, who is handsome and respectable and in love with Constance Wardour, but is somehow not quite to our liking. Read the rest of this entry ?


Hildegarde’s Home/My new Kindle

November 23, 2008

The internet is a very distracting thing, and it often gets in the way of my reading, especially since so many of the books I read are only available to me via the internet.

But as of Tuesday, I am the proud possessor of an Amazon Kindle and can read e-texts without distractions. I have had time to read Vicky Van, Hildegarde’s Home — although pdfs are not ideal Kindle material — a somewhat disturbing book of Agatha Christie stories, a book of Father Brown stories, a debate between George Bernard Shaw and G.K. Chesterton, Danny the Champion of the World, a Christmas story by Connie Willis, and about a third of a mystery novel from the 1880s called The Diamond Coterie. So, yeah, I’m enjoying myself.

But right now I’m here to talk about Hildegarde’s Home, which may be my favorite of the Hildegarde books. She seems more like a genuine girl in this one — she’s hard-working, knowledgeable, and full of enthusiasm, but there’s no sense that she’s infallible, which is a danger in books of this sort, and however good and smart Hildegarde Grahame is, her mother is better and smarter. Also, everyone — the author, Mrs. Grahame, and Hildegarde herself — has a sense of humor. Read the rest of this entry ?


Anybody but Anne, and Murder Will In

November 20, 2008

Tuesday was my birthday, so I chose to spend the day at the library. The main branch of the New York Public Library, to be precise. The have a gigantic non-circulating collection of old books they’ve taken off the shelves because no one is interested in them anymore, but if you get an access card, you can request that they let you look at them for a while. You fill out little slips — no more than three at a time — and then, in less than half an hour, they bring your books up in a dumbwaiter, and you get to pick them up at a desk in the main reading room, which has the coolest ceiling ever. It’s probably the size of a football field, and it has all these nooks and crannies that look like they’d be really fun to climb on if the ceiling were somehow turned upside down. Which, yes, is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.

Anyway. I spent about five hours there and read two Carolyn Wells mysteries, Anybody but Anne (1914) and Murder Will In (1942), a title that has always interested me. Read the rest of this entry ?


Hildegarde’s Holiday

November 2, 2008

Hildegarde’s Holiday is a meandering sort of book, and it also sort of forms a break in the narrative of the series. Since the end of Queen Hildegarde, Bubble and Pink Chirk’s mother has died, and they have been given a home by the Hartleys. Bubble has been sent to school in the city, as he wants to be a doctor, and Pink has been renamed Rose and has just had an operation to restore to her the use of her legs.

Rose needs to convalesce a bit, preferably in the country, so she and Hilda go to spend the summer with Hilda’s great aunt Wealthy Bond. (Similarities between Hilda Grahame and Elsie Dinsmore: 1. Both have maiden aunts named Wealthy. 2. Neither drinks caffeine.)
Read the rest of this entry ?