Hildegarde’s Home/My new KindleNovember 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.
This book marks the beginning of real unity in the series. The first had Hildegarde visiting her mother’s former nurse, the second had her visiting her cousin Wealthy Bond, and this, the third, has Hildegarde and her mother settling down at their new house, Braeside, which will be the setting of the rest of the books. Hilda’s father has died and left her and her mother with very little. This makes it necessary for them to move to the country, which neither of them is really displeased about.
They become friends with their neighbor Colonel Ferrers, an old friend of Mr. Grahame, and his nephew Jack, who turns out to be a cousin of the Grahames. The Colonel is a little bit curmudgeonly and entirely delightful, and he keeps catching Hilda doing tomboyish things like climbing trees, much to her embarrassment. Jack is very tall and impossibly awkward, and Hilda has little use for him until she discovers that he is a musical genius. His uncle wants to send him to Harvard to become a gentleman, but Jack wants to go to Leipsic to study the violin, and eventually, with the help of the Grahame women, he gets his way.
That’s one of the major storylines. The other involves a little boy named Hugh Allen, who has apparently read the Bible more times than many clergymen. Somehow, this hasn’t made him religious so much as it has made him poetical. He calls Hilda his Purple Maid, and Colonel Ferrers Saul, and he turns out to be the nephew of the Colonel’s housekeeper.
I hadn’t remembered how much fun this book was, and I’m really looking forward to rereading the rest of the series, especially since I haven’t yet reached the book where Hildegarde finds a secret room opening out of her bedroom.