Archive for the ‘Vintage Fiction’ Category

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Spray on the Windows

July 20, 2018

The thing about Spray on the Windows (by J.E. Buckrose) is that I’ve only just admitted to myself, a month and a half after finishing it, that I don’t like it. I feel guilty about that, because it’s not bad. It’s just that Buckrose’s thesis is that no matter how much life sucks, it’s going to be okay if you’re with the person you love, and to prove that thesis, she has to make life suck pretty bad. For most of the book, this are sort of okay, but you know where it’s going, and “how unhappy is everyone going to be?” is my least favorite kind of suspense.

Our protagonist is Ann Middleton, who has just moved to the seaside town of Wodenscar to work for the wealthy and eccentric Mrs. Barrington. Mrs. Barrington has a nephew who Ann would like to marry, and he likes her, too — but not necessarily enough to offer her marriage. Then there’s Ann’s neighbor Stephen Finlay, poor and disgraced and possibly a bit of an obstacle to Ann marrying for money.

You get to stress through her romantic decisions, stress through her married life, and stress through some possibly supernatural deaths and near-deaths. It’s…not that much fun. But I suspect that if I was a little less prone to anxiety, I would have liked it a lot more.

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Empty Hands

June 22, 2018

Robert Endicott, early in Arthur Stringer’s Empty Hands, compares his employee Shomer Grimshaw to a Diesel engine, efficient and emotionless, and wonders who would win out if Grimshaw had to deal with Endicott’s modern, spoiled daughter Claire. As a reader, you know what this signals: they will meet, and probably fall in love, and we’ll find out just how human Grimshaw can be. And I guess we do, but — and I suspect Stringer didn’t intend this — the answer is “not very.”

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Nina’s Career

June 7, 2018

The bad news is that Nina’s Career isn’t as good as The Story Book Girls. The good news is that it’s still good enough that I want to read everything Christina Gowans Whyte ever wrote.

Nina Wentworth is an orphan being raised in London by three spinster aunts. Their income will die with them, so eventually Nina will have to support herself, and as she’s shown some artistic talent, she’s training to be an artist.

That’s not what the book is about. Read the rest of this entry ?

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An Everyday Girl

June 5, 2018

An Everyday Girl, by Amy Ella Blanchard, is one of those books that wants to be two or three completely unrelated books, but it’s fine. I didn’t mind the structural issues half as much as the casual racism (including blackface and the N-word).  Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Seed of the Righteous

June 3, 2018

The Seed of the Righteous feels like Juliet Wilbor Tompkins’s entry into the subgenre that includes V.V.’s Eyes, The Clarion, and A Poor Wise Man. But those are about wealthy young people coming to terms with the ethical realities of their situations, and this is about a poor one. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tom Slade, Forest Ranger

June 2, 2018

I started Tom Slade, Forest Ranger in January (at a hockey game) but I couldn’t get through it. This kid Henny Vollmer kills someone by accident, and it was stressing me out. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Girl Crusoes

June 1, 2018

I don’t know how I feel about The Girl Crusoes (by Mrs. Herbert Strang, a pseudonym for the same two guys who wrote as Mr. Herbert Strang). I love a good survival story, which I think means this isn’t one. Also I wish people writing about castaways wouldn’t populate their tropical islands; so often it just seems like an excuse to be super racist. Read the rest of this entry ?