Old Valentines

May 11, 2018

  • Still, was that really necessary, Bookman? After he name-dropped your magazine, too.
  • This is what I meant about publishing industry in-jokiness.
  • Anyway, it turns out that Munson Havens was actually, for many years, the Secretary of the Cleveland, Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
  • This isn’t particularly important, but the book-world flavor of Old Valentines is the best thing about the book.
  • Which is not to say there’s anything wrong with the rest of it. I liked it a lot. The story is just very, very slight.
  • Phyllis Oglebay lives with her uncle, Sir Peter Oglebay. Her parents died when she was a kid. As a young woman, she meets and falls in love at first sight with an unpublished poet, John Landless.
  • Yeah, I don’t like it when people fall in love at first sight, mostly because it’s super, super boring. I found it difficult to like either Phyllis or John during the courting stage.
  • I liked them more after they ran away to get married.
  • Havens’s characters are pleasant, and occasionally fun, to watch interacting with each other.
  • The story, such as it is, is over sooner than you think it will be. Then it keeps going for a while, for no apparent reason.
  • Phyllis’s friend Peggy likes Stalky & Co. better than Kim, and I want to say so do I, but…Look. If you ask me if Stalky is my favorite Kipling, I will say yes, but if you ask me if I like Stalky better than Kim I will have no answer.



  1. This book sounds a little over my head, in terms of time period anyway

    • It shouldn’t be. Just a fairly standard love story filled out with a lot of talk about books.

  2. Can confirm: a (very) light and enjoyable read.

    I did enjoy the bookshop and bookseller descriptions particularly, as they are an Area of Interest for me, but I don’t think that anything in the book would be significantly impenetrable to anyone who’s never even been in a used book store – might miss a few allusions, but nothing vital. (and, from the ads at the back of the book, I discovered Ian Hay, an author of approximately similar “weight” – so that’s nice)

    Thank you for your review!

    • That’s pretty funny–the ads sent me to Ian Hay, too.

      • I’ll look forward to your review of him!

        (I mean, if you write a review – I assume you don’t review everything you read. But I enjoy your reviews of books I’ve read, too – less useful for finding New Reading Material, but both interesting and fun!)

        • I did write one — it’s set to publish in a few hours. I…talked myself into not liking it very much.

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