Posts Tagged ‘1920s’

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Play the Game!

June 17, 2015

I’ve been having a really hard time writing about Play the Game! by Ruth Comfort Mitchell, and I don’t know why. I liked it but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t what I expected. And that’s the way I feel about a lot of books that I have no trouble writing about.

So there’s this girl, Honor Carmody. She’s kind of tomboyish and motherly at the same time. She’s got a stepfather who’s not super relevant to the plot, but who is easily the most enjoyable character. She’s got a boy-next-door best friend, Jimsy King. She does a lot of his schoolwork for him so he can continue to be a football star, but it feels supportive on her side rather than exploitative on his. Also, Jimsy comes from a notoriously wild family, and everyone expects that at some point he will develop an alcohol problem. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Linda Lee, Incorporated

June 9, 2015

Sometime I’d like to read a book set in the silent film industry that’s not full of drug addiction and divorce and debt, and Linda Lee, Incorporated definitely isn’t it. But it does have a wealth of detail about how movies got made circa 1922, and it doesn’t take too many offensive moral stances on its characters’ behavior, so I’ll take it. It also doesn’t have much in common with The Lone Wolf, the only other book I’ve read by Louis Joseph Vance. He, as you may remember, was the one who spontaneously combusted. Or not, I guess, but, you know, let’s just say he did. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Fair Harbor

May 6, 2015

Jenn left me a comment about Joseph Crosby Lincoln the other day, and I suddenly found myself thinking about him, and wanting to read one of his books. The last couple of times that’s happened, I’ve just reread Galusha the Magnificent, but this time I went for something new: Fair Harbor. And it’s a good one — it’s got most of the things I like about Lincoln and none of the things I don’t. I mean. Maybe some of the things. None are coming to mind at the moment. Really the only thing that’s missing is a competent spinster. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Joanna Builds a Nest

April 15, 2015

Do you ever feel like a book knows you too well? I got about 75% of the way through Joanna Builds a Nest being totally delighted by it, and then I got to a point where I felt like my id was looking me straight in the eyes and I really, really wanted to look away. So, um, I’m going to try to write about the book as if that didn’t happen.

Juliet Wilbor Tompkins is pretty good with competent female characters, although in the other books of hers I’ve read — which were earlier — I felt at times like she was apologizing for them. I didn’t feel that way here. Joanna Maynard is about thirty, and works in publishing. She’s good at her job, and her firm couldn’t get along without her. Her real genius, though, is for design, and she reflexively turns unappealing spaces into comfortable, welcoming ones. She’s moved from apartment to apartment, making each one over until her landlord can charge more than she can afford to pay, but now she’s bought a house, and is free to do her worst. Her worst, I imagine, is pretty fantastic. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Mollie’s Substitute Husband

April 6, 2015

I’m not altogether sure what to say about Mollie’s Substitute Husband, by Max McConn. I mean, aside from the obvious, which is that it’s The Prisoner of Zenda if it were set in Chicago circa 1920 and almost every possible thing went wrong and then at the end everyone was like, “oh well, no harm done.” Read the rest of this entry ?

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Vision House/8th Blogiversary

March 4, 2015

Today is the eighth anniversary of Redeeming Qualities. I’m not doing anything particularly special for the occasion, but it seemed like a good time to wrap up the Williamsons kick I’ve been on. Also — obviously — I want to thank everyone who reads the blog for sticking around. I started this blog figuring writing into the void about the books I was reading was better than talking about them to people who didn’t care, but that doesn’t mean I ever wanted there to actually be a void, and I really enjoy interacting with you guys.

Anyway. Brian said Vision House was his favorite Williamson book, so it seemed like a good one to read next. And…well, I can see why this would be someone’s favorite. It’s not mine. But it’s crazy. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Aprilly

October 28, 2014

This is my third attempt at writing a review of Aprilly, by Jane Abbott. I’m not sure why writing about it is so daunting. It’s never going to be my favorite Jane Abbott book — there are structural issues, and a lot of what happens feels unearned. Also I found it hard to sympathize with the protagonist, and wished some of the other characters got more page time. But all of these things are things I’ve had time to think out. When I finished the book, I mostly just thought, “that was nice, but the romance was kind of creepy and unnecessary and Laughing Last was better.”

Anyway, I enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll want to read it again. And if you want more information than that (you should) here’s a bit of a synopsis:

April Dangerfield is left penniless and homeless (I mean, approximately) after the death of her circus performer mother, and somehow ends up in a small town in Maine, where she finds a number of friends, including the usual crotchety spinster, and eventually acquires a family. And also a horse.

Jane Abbott falls flat for me sometimes, usually in the books everyone else seems to like best. I guess this is just one of those times.

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