June 1, 2015

There’s a range of weirdness levels in books by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott. Molly-Make-Believe reads like it was written by someone who doesn’t not know what to do with a coordinating conjunction. The White Linen Nurse is full of mental breakdown-y things, but in context they sort of work. If you told me the only kinds of punctuation used in The Fairy Prince and Other Stories were periods and exclamation marks, I would want to double check before I told you you were wrong. And Old-Dad makes no discernible sense. I’m not really sure what else to say about it.

Daphne Bretton gets kicked out of college after being caught in a compromising position. She wasn’t actually at fault, but she’s no longer welcome in respectable society anyway, so she goes “home” — somewhere she’s never been before — and makes the acquaintance of her father, who hasn’t seen her since she was a baby, I guess. He’s sort of eccentric and extremely obscure for someone who speaks almost exclusively in independent clauses. You know what I mean: everything he says sounds very direct, but doesn’t mean anything in particular, which is an Abbott specialty. Also he has white hair and a blue dog, and I have no idea what Abbott means when she describes the dog as blue. And perhaps the problem with Abbott in general is that I’d rather dismiss the dog as unnecessarily twee than care.

There’s also no particular logic to the plot. Every storyline seems to be missing something in the middle, unless the middle is all we’ve got, and Daphne’s point of view is too unfocused to make sense of anything for us. That might be meant to reflect her mental state, but at the moment I’m disinclined to give Abbott that much credit. I only identified Daphne as the protagonist because I know it’s not her father, anyway — he’s a deus ex machina with some really questionable aims.

Anyway, really this is my response to the book:

  • What’s going on?
  • Why?
  • Never mind; I don’t care.


  1. Lol Maybe she was referencing this folk song: https://m.youtube.com/watch?autoplay=1&v=s2TZ_zQjMfQ

    • If only I could believe it was that rational.

  2. I started Old-Dad and rapidly lost interest after she and her dad moved to the island. I thought it was just me, but now that I’ve read your review I can delete it with a clear conscience!

    • And now that I know you had the same reaction, I can feel less like I’m being unfair.

  3. I too left daughter and father on the island, about a week ago – with the same qustions as above.

    • It’s nice to know that everyone is having the same reaction to this book.

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