Archive for the ‘Vintage Fiction’ Category

h1

Violet Vereker’s Vanity

February 9, 2018

Hey, so: Violet Vereker’s Vanity, by Annie Emma Challice. I liked it a lot. And I think probably Annie Emma Challice was before her marriage the Annie Emma Armstrong who wrote Three Bright Girls, which I have owned since childhood and haven’t read in many years.

Violet is the middle daughter in a very nice family, and also she’s a bit of a snob, encouraged by her friend Amy Lawrence. The Lawrences are ostentatious and a little vulgar where the Verekers are quietly well-bred. When the Sugden family moves to the neighborhood and Violet hears that they made their fortune manufacturing soap, she resolves not to mix with them any more than necessary, and certainly never to go to their house.

But the Sugdens turn out to be really nice–especially the eldest son, Marmaduke. Violet, to her credit, realizes this immediately, and feels pretty stupid. But she also feels bound by her promise not to visit the Sugdens, and things become increasingly awkward. And that’s the plot, aside from a series of convenient injuries.

The whole thing is one big lesson about pride, and cutting off your nose to spite your face, and Challice never tries not to be obvious about that, but her writing never really feels didactic. Violet is super relatable, an awkward teenager who feels like she has no choice in doing what she’s doing, even though her situation is entirely of her own making. This is just a good, solid, wholesome, late 19th century book for girls. I approve.

Advertisements
h1

The Terrible Twins

January 29, 2018

I fear I’ve run out of precocious Edgar Jepson children. If anyone knows of any more, please tell me about them.

Sadly, The Terrible Twins, while enjoyable, is inferior to the Lady Noggs books, the Tinker books, and every Pollyooly thing except for Pollyooly Dances. I think we can all agree that Pollyooly Dances was a mistake.  Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Story Book Girls

January 12, 2018

I’m having an absurdly good run of book luck to start the year: first The Wings of Youth and the less-good-but-not-bad Girl in the Mirror, then Meg’s Friend, and now The Story Book Girls, by Christina Gowans Whyte. I can’t imagine it getting any better than The Story Book Girls, though. I tried to write about the book while I was reading it, but my notes are mostly things like “Elma! and Mabel!” and “I am wildly in love with the whole Leighton family.”

This is one of those books that I liked too much to be able to write about easily. I am at the best of times mostly a seething mass of emotion, and this book had my eyes welling up with (good) tears about twice a chapter. So, where to start? Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Meg’s Friend

January 11, 2018

Why were Victorians so good at weird kids and so bad at romance? Okay, that’s a very broad generalization, and probably unfair, but it applies to Meg’s Friend, by Alice Abigail Corkran.

Meg is a young girl raised in a boarding house in London. The proprietress, Mrs. Brown, is the only guardian she’s ever known, but somewhere in the background someone is sending money for her keep. She’s a reserved, serious child whose upbringing has given her a lot of worldly wisdom, and she has exactly one friend. This is William Standish, a young journalist who boards at Mrs. Browne’s. He’s clearly more genteel and better educated than the other people Meg knows, and he teaches her and reads to her and improves her speech and manners by example. In return, she keeps his room tidy, holds onto his money so he doesn’t run out before payday, and scolds him when he drinks. It’s his inquiries that draw Meg’s guardian’s attention to the conditions at Mrs. Browne’s and get Meg sent away to school. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Girl in the Mirror

January 9, 2018

Every time I try to explain my feelings about The Girl in the Mirror, I get stuck, so let’s start with the premise instead. This sequel to Elizabeth Jordan’s The Wings of Youth opens with Barbara Devon’s marriage and departure for a months-long honeymoon. That leaves her brother Laurie without a guardian (and now wealthy in his own right) for the first time in his life. And that shouldn’t be dangerous: he’s stopped drinking and gambling, and he has friends and a career. But the folks who are worried about him are right to be. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Wings of Youth

January 3, 2018

I tracked down The Wings of Youth after starting another book by Elizabeth Jordan and realizing it had to be the sequel to something. The sketch of Barbara and Lawrence Devon’s adventures given by a guest at Barbara’s wedding made them sound pretty good, but actually they’re fantastic. My only complaint is that The Wings of Youth is a silly title, which makes me not want to discuss the book out loud. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

my 2017 in books

December 31, 2017

I haven’t, historically, kept track of what I read. But I started bullet journaling around the end of January, and sometime in February I created a collection for books I was reading.

It’s possible that I forgot to put a few things on here, and I know I left out fanfiction and odds and ends of short stories. Otherwise, this is a pretty accurate representation of what my reading life is like. There were some things I consciously decided not to finish, and some things I just ccidentally stopped reading. It looks like there were only two books I read twice this year: The Career of Katherine Bush, which I’ve written about, and Diantha, which I haven’t. The second time I read Diantha I couldn’t sleep, so I read it in the middle of the night on my phone in one go.

I think it’s pretty clear that I get caught up in particular authors sometimes. Sometimes I have to stop myself, so that I still have more to come back to (Anna Buchan). Sometimes I have to push to finish something (the Aunt Jane’s Nieces series). Sometimes I just feel like stopping (Mrs. Molesworth). I’m not sure I’ve ever stuck with one author like I did with E. Phillips Oppenheim in January and February. Read the rest of this entry ?