Posts Tagged ‘1900s’

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Open House

April 18, 2015

So, Juliet Wilbor Tompkins is definitely going to be a Thing for me. Open House was almost as satisfying as Joanna Builds a Nest, and much less disconcerting.

At this point 75% of the books I’ve read by Tompkins have as a thesis the idea that no one can be happy without some kind of work. That’s a thing I also believe — probably for slightly different reasons — and it tends to produce exactly the kind of book I want to read. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Halo

April 10, 2015

Bettina von Hutten fucks me up. I’m not sure if I really like her at all. She’s an author who’s not afraid to let things end badly, and usually I avoid authors like that. I mean, I can very easily be unhappy by myself. I don’t need anyone’s help. But I bought Pam Decides at a library book sale because it was cheap and I liked the cover. And then I read Pam, because I don’t like reading sequels first, and mostly I liked it. And then I read Pam Decides and felt pretty good about the world in general, because when von Hutten does decide on a happy ending, she makes it count.

I’ve just finished reading The Halo, and I think I understand now. Von Hutten delights in situations where there’s no right answer, and she’s good at them. If you want to wallow in painful emotional situations, go no further. Or, alternatively, stop getting emotionally involved in books; it’s a mistake. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Six Girls Growing Older

March 23, 2015

Six Girls Growing Older is a funny one. I’m not entirely sure how a feel about it, especially in relation to Six Girls and the Tea Room. But having had a few days to let it process, I think it’s largely an issue of structure. The last book used the tea room as a framework to hang the story on, but also the Scollards knew when they opened it that it was only going to last until the Spring, when it was time to go back to Pennsylvania, giving the book a clear time-frame, too. Six Girls Growing Older, on the other hand, is as transitional as the name implies. Laura’s on her way to Germany. Margery is getting married. Bob is really too old to get a proper summer vacation. The Scollard fortunes change, too and Aunt Keren adopts Happie legally and the rest of the family practically. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Six Girls and the Tea Room

March 20, 2015

Six Girls and the Tea Room is, if anything, more satisfactory than Six Girls and Bob, and gives me a lot of hope for the rest of the series. It covers the Scollards’ (and Gretta’s) winter in the city, and mostly revolves around the tea room and circulating library that the older girls set up — but with plenty of room for subplots. There are a lot of subplots. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Six Girls and Bob

March 19, 2015

I’ve been having a hard time putting together a review of Marion Ames Taggart’s Six Girls and Bob, and I’m not really sure why. It might be because it hasn’t finished growing on me yet.

This is one of those books where some siblings have fallen on at least moderately hard times and have to keep house on a budget. Books like this are sort of a cornerstone of children’s literature, right? The trope covers everything from Little Women to The Boxcar Children. And this is a pretty nice example of it. Read the rest of this entry ?

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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.

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Chip of the Flying U

September 22, 2014

Jenn recommended Chip of the Flying U, by B.M. Bower, about a year ago, and that’s probably how long it’s been sitting on my Kindle. I don’t know why I picked it up this weekend, except that the internet in my apartment wasn’t working and I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about anything I was more familiar with, but I’m glad I did. It’s almost entirely delightful, one of those books that does enough right that you don’t care that much about the stuff it doesn’t. And if you have to be content with a kind of ham-fisted ending, well, everything before that is so much fun that the book has kind of earned the right to fall apart in the last chapter. Read the rest of this entry ?

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