Archive for the ‘books’ Category

h1

The Golden Silence

February 27, 2015

titlepg

The title page: so lovely. The book: so racist.

My top three most appallingly racist things about The Golden Silence – another travel adventure from A.M. and C.N. Williamson — not counting that thing where all the Arabs are kind of evil, are as follows:

  1. Liberal use of the n-word, always in reference to someone whose skin is “hardly darker than old ivory.”
  2. Referring to drums used by various North Africans as tom toms.
  3. The obsessive cataloging of everyone’s complexions.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Winnie Childs, the Shop Girl

February 23, 2015

Blog update: I’ve been pretty depressed, I guess? I’ve been having trouble finishing books since November, I think. And work is pretty stressful, and even though I can get pretty vehement about mental health problems being legitimate health problems, it’s really difficult to say, “hey, I spend much of my day wanting to cry, and sometimes I skip lunch because I don’t want to have to choose what to eat, so I’m going to take a sick day.” Especially if it’s unlikely a sick day will help.

Anyway. The Williamsons maybe sort of do help.

Williamsons update: It’s official. My favorite Williamsons book is Set in Silver. Sorry, Secret History Revealed by Lady Peggy O’Malley. You’re still the book that made me love the Williamsons, but Set in Silver is better.

Anyway, I reread Set in Silver, and finished it, which was encouraging. And then I read another Williamsons: Winnie Childs, the Shop Girl. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Imprudence of Prue

January 23, 2015

The Imprudence of Prue is sort of proto-Georgette Heyer–all historical high society and everyone in debt–but set much earlier, at the beginning of the 18th century, and–I don’t know, I thought it felt pretty convincingly historical. It’s by Sophie Fisher, and I can’t find out anything about her, or any other books by her, and I’m kind of disappointed.
Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Tracy Park, again

January 8, 2015

Several things explain why I haven’t posted much lately–some extended Netflixing, rereading things that don’t fit here, like Mary Stewart and some early John Le Carre, and also rereading, yet again and very slowly, Mary Jane Holmes’ Tracy Park. This isn’t a review. I couldn’t write a review. I wrote a really long synopsis once, and that’s here. This is, I guess, an appreciation.

It’s ridiculous how much I love this book. Objectively it’s not very good, probably, but I’m not objective about it. And anyway, I think it’s Holmes’ best work, and that counts for something. It’s got things that others of her books have–insane people, and the name ‘Hastings,’ and a lot of low-key cruelty–but it’s also a lot kinder than her other books. No one is stripped entirely of their wealth, or left to die alone. No one goes  crazy to the point of raving and tearing their hair out. Frank never has to make a full confession to his brother. Everyone’s okay with each other in the end. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Christmas Stories: A Captured Santa Claus

December 11, 2014

When I was doing my annual selection of Christmas stories the other day, I couldn’t remember why I vaguely disliked Thomas Nelson Page, just that I did. And that’s how I ended up reading a Christmas story about a Confederate soldier and his family. And I guess I’m glad I did.

It’s called A Captured Santa Claus, and it takes place between a Christmas and a Christmas during the Civil War. Major Stafford’s children are disappointed with the homemade presents that are all their mother can afford, but their father, home on a flying visit, promises the younger children that they’ll get what they want next year. For five year old Charlie, that’s a uniform and a toy sword. For his younger sister, Evelyn, it’s a doll with eyes that open and close.

Will Major Stafford be able to buy the gifts? Will he get home to Holly Hill to deliver them? Well, of course he will. But there are complications. By Christmas, Holly Hill is behind the Union lines, and going home without his uniform on could get Major Stafford executed as a spy.

This is basically the story you expect, but there are just enough twists to stop it from being completely predictable. And while Christmas is front and center, the Christmas spirit that goes with it is allowed to function without fanfare.

I did spent most of the story resenting a bunch of children for being Confederates, but, you know, that happens.

h1

You’re Only Young Once

November 30, 2014

I’ve been in a sort of Margaret Widdemer, sheltered girl finally getting the adventure she’s been wanting mood, so I keep picking up her books, but You’re Only Young Once isn’t in that mold. Instead of a lone, lonely heroine, you have a family of them, plus some brothers, with loving parents in the background. Angela Goldsborough is the eldest, a doll-like singing teacher, one of two daughters who are contributing to the family income. Then Janetta is tall, dark and business-minded, Deborah is dreamy and beautiful, Annice is quiet and quaint, and Isabella is lively and spoiled. All of them are pretty, and none of them lacks male attention — the older sisters draw lots for the parlor in the evening, because all of them are always expecting callers. Each of them gets a romance over the course of the book, and so do two of their three brothers — warm-hearted John and steady, bespectacled Worrel. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Dig Here!

November 28, 2014

Dig Here! is a bunch of familiar elements — teenage girl best friends, missing treasure, a cranky aunt, and abandoned house, etc. — assembled in a way that didn’t feel familiar. I found myself wondering a lot whether this was the book Gladys Allen set out to write.

The main character, Sandy, is the daughter of missionaries. She’s sent to boarding school during the school year and to various relatives during the summers. When Dig Here! opens, she’s facing the prospect of spending the summer with Aunt Cal, who she’s never met, and who is related to her only by marriage. Aunt Cal says it’s okay for Sandy to bring a friend with her, so she invites her best friend, Eve, and it’s a good thing for her that she does. Eve is a much more forceful personality than Sandy is, and she’s also more adventurous, more sensible, and probably smarter. She’s even better at dealing with Aunt Cal, in part because she’s better at cooking and housework and, I don’t know, getting up on time than Sandy is.
Read the rest of this entry ?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 270 other followers