Archive for February 1st, 2011

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Stranded in Arcady

February 1, 2011

I really owe Dorian for recommending Francis Lynde’s Stranded in Arcady. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve had the pleasure of reading in ages.

Donald Prime is a writer from New York, Lucetta Millington a teacher in an Ohio boarding school. They become acquainted when they wake up one day on the shore of a Canadian lake. Neither of them has any idea how they got there, but there’s a pile of provisions and signs that an airplane has landed nearby, and from these Prime deduces that his friend Watson Grider is playing an extremely elaborate practical joke. I say ‘deduces,’ but you shouldn’t draw any conclusions from that, or from anything Prime thinks. As far as I could tell, he’s not particularly good at anything, even his chosen profession. Grider certainly doesn’t think so — Prime’s main reason for suspecting him is that Grider once said that if Prime were stranded on a desert island with a woman for a while, perhaps his female characters wouldn’t be so one-dimensional. Presumably having to depend on Lucetta’s superior skill in just about everything is meant to cure that problem, but he manages to be pretty condescending to the “little woman” even after she’s saved his life and proved to be a lot more resilient and level-headed than he is. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Heart of Rachael

February 1, 2011

The Heart of Rachael is a 1916 bestseller by Kathleen Thompson Norris, and the best word I can think of to describe it is ‘involved.’ I had a whole synopsis of the plot written out, but it was kind of dull without all the semi-coherent insights into people’s characters interspersed with the exposition. So, let’s see how radically I can simplify it.

Rachael Fairfax, age 21, marries Clarence Breckenridge, a divorcé with a young daughter. Their marriage turns out very badly, mostly because Clarence doesn’t really care about anyone but his daughter Carol, commonly known as Billy. Also, Clarence is an alcoholic. Seven years into the marriage, Rachael decides she can’t stand it anymore and divorces him. She spends the summer becoming a better person, or something, and at the end of it she marries Dr. Warren Gregory, who is very much in love with her, because she has realized that she’s also very much in love with him.

Things go pretty well for them, but, although everyone is pretty much agreed that Rachael’s divorce was as justified as any divorce ever, she’s still really sensitive about it. Especially when, soon after Rachael and Warren are married, Billy runs off to marry another alcoholic divorcé, and Clarence kills himself. No one else seems to be bothered about this as much as Rachael is. Read the rest of this entry ?

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At one-thirty

February 1, 2011

Damon Gaunt reads like a series detective, but isn’t one. As far as I know, he only appeared in one book: At One-Thirty, by Isabel Ostrander. I read it after Mark mentioned it in a comment on my Max Carrados post.

Like Max Carrados, Gaunt is a blind detective. Like Carrados, he makes deductions that astonish everyone, and people who aren’t told that he’s blind often don’t realize it. But Gaunt is a little bit more human and likable, largely because he knows that, while his heightened other senses and his analytical mind give him advantages over other people, that doesn’t mean his lack of sight isn’t a disadvantage. Read the rest of this entry ?