Archive for April, 2009

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Somehow Good

April 25, 2009

I haven’t finished Somehow Good yet, but — well, as absorbing as I’m finding it, I’ve been reading it on and off for a couple of weeks now, and I’m still less than halfway through. I’m not convinced that I ever will finish it.

Until I came across this book in the Project Gutenberg catalog, my main associations with the name “William De Morgan” were ceramics and this painting by his wife Evelyn, which I loathe. I had no idea that, around the turn of the century, he began a successful career as a novelist.

Somehow Good is a difficult book to define. The plot, in almost anyone else’s hands, would be unforgivably melodramatic — the New York Times reviewer (PDF) says “the plot of it might well in other hands have served to furnish forth all the thrills that melodrama is made of.”
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Next Post

April 25, 2009

Uh-oh.

Project Gutenberg has just released a new, better formatted version of Who Cares?

I might have to reread it. Again.

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Alger books

April 24, 2009

This is a document I created for myself when I was writing a high school research paper on Horatio Alger and had trouble keeping his books straight. I think it’s pretty clear that I wasn’t taking the paper very seriously.

It’s been a while since I read anything by Alger, but he was sort of my first love in the world of trashy 19th century fiction, and I feel a warm glow when I look at my bookshelf and realize for the hundredth time that yes, I own a¬† copy of Walter Sherwood’s Probation.

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I kind of thought I’d posted this last week, but apparently not: Red-Robin

April 24, 2009

After finding Keineth so wonderful, I immediately started two more Jane Abbott books: Larkspur on my computer and Red-Robin on my Kindle. Red-Robin is the one I finished first — I don’t know whether that was because I was reading it on the more portable machine or because it was kind of awesome.

Somehow, Red-Robin seemed a lot older than it was, which I think might be because the storyline reminded me a lot of a Mary Jane Holmes novel. But even though Jane Abbott uses the same plotlines so many other people use, she brings a sort of freshness to them. Things that you expect to happen because you know how the story goes do happen, but they happen more naturally and spontaneously than you would believe possible. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Graustark

April 17, 2009

I’ve been very busy lately, but I always make time to read. What I can’t always make time for is the writing part. So, in an effort to catch up, here are my brief thoughts on Graustark:

Graustark is about a rich American named Grenfall Lorry — and his name is pretty much the coolest thing about him — who falls in love with a mysterious foreign girl traveling through America with her aunt and uncle. He follows her home to Europe, only to find that she is actually Princess Yetive, ruler of the tiny principality of Graustark. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Keineth

April 11, 2009

I should be writing about Graustark, by George Barr McCutcheon, which is probably the book the phrase “Ruritanian romance” was invented for, but I just finished Jane Abbott’s Keineth this morning, so I’m not in the mood for talking about Grenfall Lorry’s supposed heroics.

Jane Abbott was recommended to me by frequent commenter Elizabeth, who has far better taste in girls’ books than I do, and I started with Keineth because it was one of the only ones available on Project Gutenberg. I have trouble imagining that I’ll like any of Abbott’s other books better, though. Read the rest of this entry ?

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A World of Girls, by L.T. Meade

April 5, 2009

I suspect that A World of Girls was one of L.T. Meade’s most popular books, because it’s the one that shows up most frequently on the title pages of her other books — you know: “by Mrs. L.T. Meade, author of A World of Girls, A Sweet Girl Graduate, etc.” — and that’s kind of why I hadn’t read it until now.

But if it was one of her most popular, there’s a reason: it’s pretty good. I kind of love L.T. Meade’s school stories. They’re from a generation or so before the classic English school stories by people like Angela Brazil or, later, Enid Blyton, so the school environment is completely different, with fewer students, a less formal atmosphere, and different kinds of activities. In A World of Girls, the big school playroom is lined with little partitions diivided from the rest of the room by railings and curtains, and older girls who are very good get their own partitions to furnish as they like and invite other girls to drink tea in. Read the rest of this entry ?