Posts Tagged ‘1930s’

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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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Ask Miss Mott

November 1, 2017

When I say I kept forgetting Ask Miss Mott was by E. Phillips Oppenheim and not Edgar Wallace, it’s a compliment. There are things that point towards Oppenheim: a lack of humor, an uglier snobbishness,  a brand of racism that’s slightly different from Wallace’s. But the world feels like it belongs to Wallace, with its melodramatic gangs of master criminals, its gallant Scotland Yard official and its intrepid girl detective. The style is Oppenheim, but the substance is mostly Wallace, and that has immediately vaulted Ask Miss Mott into second place on my list of favorite Oppenheim books. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Beginners Luck

July 24, 2017

Someday I’m going to learn to stop reading a book when it’s about listless, unhappy people doing nothing of interest. But I haven’t yet, so I made it all the way through Beginners Luck, by Emily Hahn. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Christmas Bride

May 8, 2017

I don’t actually want to write a review of Grace Livingston Hill’s The Christmas Bride, but I do want to say:

  • Those of you who were like, “okay, but sometimes the religious stuff is way too much”? I didn’t get it before. I get it now.
  • Apparently what’s wrong with the world is that I am not in Israel.
  • The hero will not give any of his vast fortune to charity because it stops people from being self-reliant.
  • GHRHHRA;GHGHDGASDLLGF
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The Day of Small Things

May 1, 2017

There doesn’t seem to be much point in describing The Day of Small Things. Do you like Anna Buchan? Have you read The Proper Place? If you can answer yes to both, then yes, you should read The Day of Small Things–if you haven’t already. If you answer no to either, then no, you shouldn’t.

The Day of Small Things picks up and continues in the same mood The Proper Place ended in, three years later. The Rutherfurds are the same. Their friends are the same. It’s nice to see them all again, except perhaps for Barbara. The whole experience is very much like catching up with old friends and sharing gossip about shared acquaintance: probably nothing super exciting has happened to anyone, but talking to your friends feels good, and the stories are interesting because they’re about people you know.

 

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The Vanderlyn Silhouette

July 9, 2016

I seem to be incapable of writing a review of Flaming Youth, so here’s another by Augusta Huiell Seaman. The Curious Affair at Heron Shoals was my favorite of her books so far, so to go next to The Vanderlyn Silhouette was a little disappointing. This one is a proper historical novel, set around 1820 in lower Manhattan. Varick and Charlton Streets are pretty far downtown now, but back then the area was far enough north that it wasn’t in the city at all. 13-year-old Dosia Watkins, the central character, lives on the grounds of Richmond Hill, an estate occupied at various times by some pretty important historical figures, including Aaron Burr, who lived there with his daughter. By the time this story starts, it’s passed into the hands of John Jacob Astor, who rents it out as a summer home. Dosia’s grandfather is the caretaker and her mother is the housekeeper. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Catching up

December 17, 2015

I’ve been reading a fair amount, I think. Some of it’s been re-reading–the usual suspects: The Amazing Interlude, Pam Decides, etc.–but I’ve also read a few new things, and I don’t think I can remember what all of them are.

Anyway, here’s a roundup of the things I can remember, so I can get caught up and back to writing actual reviews.

The Loudwater Mystery, by Edgar Jepson. 1920.
From my Edgar Jepson phase. This is sort of the most English of English mystery novels, but not in a particularly interesting way. I didn’t like any of the characters very much. I would prefer to have Jepson stick to books about precocious children. Still, I always enjoy it when he describes his characters in extremely specific art historical references.

Jan and Her Job, by L. Allen Harker. 1917.

I enjoyed this story of a young woman going to India to take care of her sister’s children and eventually returning home with them, but I sort of wished Jan’s job had been more, you know, job-like. The nephew and the love interest are both very appealing, and I enjoyed the villain’s unrelenting awfulness.

Tenant for Death, by Cyril Hare. 1937.

I think I really liked this, sort of, maybe. It took a while to grow on me. It’s a very technical, measured mystery novel, sort of in the tradition of R. Austin Freeman. If you like the drier kind of golden age detective fiction, you will probably like this.

The Obsession of Victoria Gracen, by Grace Livingston Hill. 1915.

I think I get Grace Livingston Hill now? She can get caught up in stuff you don’t want–like, this is obviously an author who doesn’t know what’s appealing about her own work–but there are things she does really well: materialism, hitting villains when they’re down, finding people their proper places in the world. And when those things are mixed together in the right proportions, she’s pretty great. This one was a little heavy on religion and inexplicably light on Victoria Gracen’s nephew in comparison to the other boys, but it’s very enjoyable.