Letters of the Motor Girl

April 18, 2012

So, uh, Letters of the Motor Girl, by Ethellyn Gardner. Short version: it’s terrible. Kind of like Bab: a sub-deb, but far, far worse.

I don’t even know what else to say about it.

So, there’s this girl, Elsie. The letters of the title are her diary, and she’s super obnoxious and she’s got a car. Everything’s kind of coy in that way where the author uses a first-person narrator’s apparent innocence to reveal all their terrible character traits and it’s supposed to be cute. Think The Letters of her Mother to Elizabeth.

Elsie’s father, besides living off the income he married Elsie’s mother for, is a sort of inventor, and the book takes a weird turn into the vaguely sci-fi when he invents an airship and they fly to Europe in it. But it’s all pretty sketchy by that point, because Elsie’s father has picked up a newsboy from New York to adopt or educate or something, and from that point on, most of Elsie’s diary is retellings of his stories, complete with slang and phonetic spelling of his terrible accent.

Seriously, it’s so, so bad.


  1. That’s too bad, because it has such a promising title. But thanks for the warning!

  2. YES! This book was AWFUL. I gave up about two chapters in.

    • Well, you didn’t miss anything :)

  3. Um, wow, that sounds horrrrrrible. What kind of accent does he have?

    • The kind where “the” is spelt “de.” A lot of authors seem to think this is what newsboys in New York should sound like, but I can’t imagine how it would translate to actual speech.

  4. Ugh. Just out of curiosity, after reading your post, I downloaded it. It is execrable. The ten minutes I spent reading the first two chapters were ten minutes I shall never recover.

    • It seems like the consensus is that two chapters is as much as anyone would want to read. I don’t know why I persevered; I wish I hadn’t.

      • You’re brave. Very, very brave.

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