Archive for the ‘adventure’ Category


My Friend the Chauffeur

March 15, 2008

I enjoyed Secret History Revealed by Lady Peggy O’Malley so much that I immediately went in search of another book by the Williamsons. My Friend the Chauffeur is different from either Peggy O’Malley or It Happened in Egypt, but I think I’m beginning to get a feel for how the Williamsons write.

The chauffeur in question is not actually a chauffeur. He is Lord Terence Barrymore, an impoverished Irish nobleman (the Williamsons are obviously very fond of impoverished Irish noblemen, as they have appeared prominently in all three of the Williamson books I have read). Terry’s best friend is an English baronet named Ralph Moray, who spends his winters at the Riviera, where he edits the English newspaper. Sir Ralph, in an attempt to make some money for Terry, has placed the following advertisement in his paper:

“WANTED, LADIES, TO CONDUCT. An amateur automobilist (English, titled) who drives his own motor-car accommodating five persons, offers to conduct two or three ladies, Americans preferred, to any picturesque centres in Europe which they may desire to visit. Car has capacity for carrying small luggage, and is of best type. Journeys of about 100 miles a day. Novel and delightful way of travelling; owner of car well up in history, art, and architecture of different countries. Inclusive terms five guineas a day each, or slight reduction made for extensive trip. Address—”
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Secret History Revealed by Lady Peggy O’Malley

March 1, 2008

Peggy O’Malley

When I read It Happened in Egypt last year, it was because I had just discovered the existence of the Williamsons (A.M. and C.N.), a husband and wife pair of adventure novelists, and I thought I ought to read one of their books to see what they were like.

It turns out that I was wrong in assuming that once I’d read one, I’d know what they were all like. It Happened in Egypt was okay — a mildly entertaining romp through Egypt with a few really good moments and a disappointing ending — but Secret History Revealed by Lady Peggy O’Malley is kind of wonderful, and actively exciting all the way through. I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted to describe a book as “gripping” before. There’s a bit of a disappointment in the last chapter, when the two main characters start speaking as if they’re acting in a bad melodrama, or as if they were suddenly being written by Horatio Alger, but they’re so nice that rest of the time that I’m inclined to forgive them. Read the rest of this entry ?


Happy Captain Blood Day!

September 19, 2007

Today is September 19th, which means that it’s also Captan Blood Day, a holiday of my own invention.

See, a number of years ago, after a rereading of Captain Blood, the fact that Peter Blood is tried for treason on the 19th of September stuck in my mind, and I began to notice lots of other things that happened on the 19th. And, you know, the more things you remember in connection with a date, the easier it is to remember. So I figured, since I remember it, why shouldn’t I celebrate it? Captain Blood certainly deserves to be celebrated.

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Cormorant Crag

June 25, 2007

Cormorant Crag, by George Manville Fenn, is the story of two young morons named Vince and Mike. They remind me very much of two young morons named Tom and Steve. Vince, like Tom, is not quite so much of an idiot as his friend, and Mike, like Steve, eventually learns to shut up and listen to his smarter, less dithery companion. Although Vince does quite a lot of dithering, too.

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Tom Swift in the City of Gold

June 18, 2007

I thought that it would be pretty difficult not to like a book containing a chapter called “Beware The Head-Hunters!” But then, I didn’t expect a Tom Swift book to make blatantly untrue statements about anything but science.

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May 20, 2007

Moonfleet is a sort of Robert Louis Stevenson-esque historical adventure novel. I don’t know that I really have much of an excuse for calling it RLS-esque except that it reminds me of Kidnapped and Catriona. There’s a similar friendship between a sometimes kind of idiotic young man and an older guy who is involved with something illegal but sympathetic. And, like David Balfour and Alan Breck, these two spend a while in hiding, with prices on their heads.

On the other hand, even David Balfour isn’t as annoyingly stupid as John Trenchard sometimes is. Read the rest of this entry ?


“Hi, they ‘ve got him!”

May 16, 2007

‘ “WHERE ‘S Polly?” asked Fan one snowy afternoon, as she came
into the dining-room where Tom was reposing on the sofa with his
boots in the air, absorbed in one of those delightful books in which
boys are cast away on desert islands, where every known fruit,
vegetable and flower is in its prime all the year round; or, lost in
boundless forests, where the young heroes have thrilling
adventures, kill impossible beasts, and, when the author’s
invention gives out, suddenly find their way home, laden with tiger
skins, tame buffaloes and other pleasing trophies of their prowess.

“Dun no,” was Tom’s brief reply, for he was just escaping from an
alligator of the largest size. ‘

That’s from Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl, which I love, and read about once a year, usually in the late fall, when the real cold weather starts to set in.

Anyway, every time I read it, I get to that passage and have to stop for a moment. I want to read that book Tom is reading. It sounds like the kind of book I’d enjoy. I don’t know how to find books like that, but I’ve been searching at random, and I have an idea that finding just one will somehow give me the magic key to finding all the others.