Posts Tagged ‘1910s’

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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 ?

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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 ?

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Christmas Stories: Angel Unawares

December 19, 2017

I wasn’t sure I was going to manage any Christmas stories this year, but here’s one, at least: Angel Unawares, by Alice Williamson with, I presume, very little help from Charlie. Based on this and the one other Williamsons Christmas story I’ve read, they like spending their Christmases in the South of France.

The story takes place over the course of a single Christmas Eve (the Unity of Christmastimes!) mid-World War I. Dick Odell is doing something at the American Embassy in Paris, and sends his wife Elinor and daughter Angel to Mentone to remove them from danger. Angel wanders off while her governess is distracted, and finds herself in the garden of the Valois family, where she plays with a kitten and overhears some tedious exposition about the state of the Valois finances (not good). Angel decides to help them out, and when her mother disapproves of her first plan, she comes up with a second one.

Angel Unawares has its moments, but they don’t add up to anything particularly good. What ought to be the most exciting part of the story is the most boring, and what ought to be the most affecting passes too quickly. I liked Angel and her mother, but I wanted more from and for them.

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Peter Ruff and The Double Four

December 18, 2017

I’m not going to write about all my recent E. Phillips Oppenheim reads–I’ve read about twenty of his books over the past month and a half, and that’s too many. But the more I read, the better a handle I get on him, and I’m finding most of his short story characters really enjoyable.

The Double Four seems to have been published before Peter Ruff, but Peter Ruff comes first chronologically. (You can find the two volumes in one here. I thought it was going to be a third Peter Ruff book, and was disappointed.) Peter is a nice young master criminal who falls in love with a young woman without anything in particular to recommend her. He’s trying to settle into a dull, middle-class lifestyle (to correspond with hers) when the police catch up with him and he has to leave his identity behind and create a new one.  Read the rest of this entry ?

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Some E. Phillips Oppenheim Stories

December 4, 2017

I’ve made the extremely belated discovery that E. Phillips Oppenheim’s short story collections are more fun than his novels. (With a few exceptions; you can pry The Great Impersonation from my cold, dead hands.) So, that’s mostly what I’ve been reading. Here’s a roundup of some of them. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tom Slade with the Flying Corps/Captain Blood Day 2017

September 19, 2017

Look, I know it’s Captain Blood Day, and really I should be posting about a Sabatini book, but…I think Sabatini would mostly approve of Tom Slade, seeing as many of his heroes are also a) cripplingly honorable and b) super awkward. Anyway, Happy Captain Blood Day! May we all be as ready with a good comeback as Peter Blood.

Tom Slade with the Flying Corps is, honestly, kind of amazing. It’s not perfect, but it’s clever and unexpected: a mostly-successful experiment. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tom Slade, Motorcycle Dispatch Bearer

September 15, 2017

So, Tom Slade, Motorcycle Dispatch Bearer, is kind of great. It picks up some time after Tom Slade with the Boys Over There ends, and since we last saw him, Tom has become a motorcycle messenger.

There are no significant plot developments in this book–Tom is a very good dispatch bearer at the beginning and a very good dispatch bearer at the end–but it doesn’t need them. Instead we get some episodic adventures as Tom joins some of the fighting at the front lines, gets captured — sort of — along with a sniper, and races a ship to port on his motorcycle. He meets two old friends and impresses them both thoroughly, and one of his adventures is so genuinely tense that it was uncomfortable to read.

I feel like Percy Keese Fitzhugh was experimenting over the course of the WWI Tom Slade books, of which this is the last one. The first, Tom Slade with the Colors, is structured very much like the prewar books, and so is the second. But that one (Tom Slade on a Transport) end with a clear setup for the next book. And Tom Slade with the Boys Over There is self contained in a way none of the previous books have been. And then this one is, in a way, the most normal of them all — but that’s not normal for Fitzhugh, and I felt like there was an experimental quality to it.