Archive for October, 2010

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Ads: Pollyanna (yes, again)

October 28, 2010

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The Lady of the Decoration

October 28, 2010

I liked Frances Little’s The Lady of the Decoration, but I don’t have much to say about it. It’s just one of those books about a young woman who goes on a trip and writes letters to someone at home. Nice. Not special. The woman in this particular example is a widow in her twenties whose husband was probably abusive, although she never actually says that, or anything specific about her marriage at all. The trip is to Japan, where. at the behest of her cousin, she has volunteered to be a kindergarten teacher at a missionary school.

The one thing that stood out for me was the entire absence of what I think of as travelogue-ness. No long descriptions of scenery, no detail about Japanese customs or language, no history. I often wish for less of that stuff in other books, but here I wished there would have been a little more. In Frances Little’s favor, though, it makes for some very digestible light reading.

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Ads: The Melting of Molly

October 28, 2010

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Ads: Pollyanna

October 28, 2010

 

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Andrew the Glad

October 27, 2010

I really didn’t like Andrew the Glad, which was disappointing. I liked the two Maria Thompson Daviess books I’d read previously, and I liked the ad campaign for this one, but unfortunately neither of those things are actually relevant.

Andrew the Glad came out in 1913, like V.V.’s Eyes, and it’s also set in a city in the South (I think this one is Nashville). Both books deal with the growth of the cities involved,but Henry Sydnor Harrison  was in favor of progress, and Maria Thompson Davies…may have thought she was interested in progress. But the fact is that everything “good” in the world of the book is massed on the side that includes all the available Confederate veterans and their friends, and the way forward is inextricably bound up with feelings of nostalgia; the other side consists solely of corruption and booze. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Snobbery with Violence

October 26, 2010

I ordered Snobbery with Violence, by Colin Watson, on the recommendation of Cristiane, and on the whole I liked it, but I do have some reservations. Well, a  lot.

Snobbery with Violence is a discussion of some of the most popular authors of crime fiction between, approximately, World War I and the 1960s, when the book was written. Watson’s premise is that an era’s most popular fiction tells you the most about its reading public, and obviously that’s a thesis I can get behind. What bothered me was that most of the snobbery involved seemed to come from the author. Colin Watson may think he likes mystery novels, but my impression is that he hates them and the people that read them. Read the rest of this entry ?

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V.V.’s Eyes

October 25, 2010

V.V.’s Eyes, despite the silly title, is a Serious Novel, with lots to say about the position of women in society, factory conditions, and charitable giving. But it’s also got a dazzlingly beautiful heroine, illustrations by R.M. Crosby (who usually, and more fittingly, illustrated romance novels), and an inappropriately melodramatic ending. I was never entirely convinced that Henry Sydnor Harrison knew what he wanted the book to be. On the other hand, I was frequently impressed by what it was.

Contemporary reviewers seem to have thought that the central figure of the book is V.V. — Dr. V. Vivian, a lame slum doctor — and I suspect that that was Harrison’s intention. But I was never quite convinced by V.V., who was sometimes a Christ-figure, sometimes a child, and every once in a while a (reluctantly) angry idealist. But I was completely won over by Miss Carlisle Heth, who it seems pretty unfair not to call the central character. She gets the vast majority of the available page space, and we spend most of the book pretty deeply ensconced in her head. And it’s time well spent. Read the rest of this entry ?