Posts Tagged ‘bestseller’

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When a Man Marries

October 14, 2009

I’m having trouble putting into words how much I liked When A Man Marries. The is the second Mary Roberts Rinehart book I’ve read, and it’s not much like Dangerous Days. For one thing, nothing particularly tragic happens. For another, it’s mostly pretty funny (I suspect these two things are related). Also, it’s a mystery novel. And at first, I thought  a lot about those differences, but then it occurred to me that the things that make the two books similar–good writing, for example–are at least as important. After that, I got really absorbed, and mostly stopped thinking about anything that wasn’t actually happening in the book for a while. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Graustark

April 17, 2009

I’ve been very busy lately, but I always make time to read. What I can’t always make time for is the writing part. So, in an effort to catch up, here are my brief thoughts on Graustark:

Graustark is about a rich American named Grenfall Lorry — and his name is pretty much the coolest thing about him — who falls in love with a mysterious foreign girl traveling through America with her aunt and uncle. He follows her home to Europe, only to find that she is actually Princess Yetive, ruler of the tiny principality of Graustark. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Dangerous Days

September 1, 2008

I first started reading Dangerous Days several weeks ago, and, because it was by Mary Roberts Rinehart, I assumed that it would be a murder mystery. And if it was, it was clear that the murder victim would be Clayton Spencer, and I didn’t like the other characters enough to get through more than three hundred pages worth of them if he wasn’t there too. So I put the book aside.

I picked it up again this weekend, because, after all, I wasn’t positive that there was going to be a murder, and I was in the middle of too many things and wanted to finish one. And I really did like Clayton Spencer, and I wanted to find out what happened to him.

I finished Dangerous Days this morning, and I’m not really sure what to say about it. I liked it, definitely. And I was absorbed almost from the moment I picked it up again, although there were times when I had to put it down, like when Graham Spencer hit Clay’s caddie in the head with a golf ball, or when Audrey Valentine’s husband died, or when Herman Klein beat up his daughter.

Bad things happen to the people in this book. And the characters are somewhat clichéd, and so is pretty much everything else, and the logic of the book backs a lot of opinions I disagree with, but I was completely hooked, and, as Rinehart’s philosophy was internally consistent, I just went with it. Because no matter how clichéd and/or silly some part of Dangerous Days are, taken out of context, it’s honest about where it stands, and it means everything it says. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Molly Make-Believe

May 10, 2008

So, I just read another Eleanor Hallowell Abbott story: Molly Make-Believe. And it’s a full-fludged romance novel this time — although a very small one — which is sort of not in its favor.

Molly Make-Believe tells the story of a winter in the life of Carl Stanton, a young businessman who is confined to his bed by his horrible rheumatism. He has recently become engaged to a girl named Cornelia, although it hasn’t been announced yet. Carl’s doctor is astonished to discover that Cornelia is going South for the winter in spite of the fact that Carl is ill, but, as Carl puts it, “Every girl like Cornelia had to go South sometime between November and March.” Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Wide, Wide World

February 14, 2008

The Wide, Wide World was written by Susan Warner and published in 1850 under the name Elizabeth Wetherell. It was an enormous success, and probably America’s first bestseller — it was as popular in the second half of the 19th century as Uncle Tom’s Cabin was, and was published two years before it. It was also one of the first books intended for girls rather than children. I guess it’s sort of similar to the works of Charlotte Yonge, who was writing around the same time.

For all these reasons I’ve been intending to read it for a long time, but there are so many things I want to read, and so I didn’t get around the The Wide, Wide World until the fact that Elsie Dinsmore reads it in Elsie’s Girlhood made me feel like I had to.

Well, it took me a while, but it was no hardship. It’s actually a pretty good book, and I’ surprised it isn’t still considered a classic. It’s overtly religious nearly to the extent that the Elsie books are, but I think religion is dealt with much more sensitively in The Wide, Wide World. Possibly this is because Warner was a much better writer than Martha Finley. Everything is dealt with more sensitively. Characters stay in character. There is interest outside of religion in The Wide, Wide World, and sometimes, when children are playing games, you actually get the sense that they’re having fun, as opposed to just being told that they are. And I kept having moments where I’d look up from the page and think to myself, “Yeah. That seems like something a person would do.” Much as I love old girls’ books, I don’t have many moments like that while reading them. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Just David

August 19, 2007

Last week I was on an Eleanor Porter kick. I’d never realized how many books she wrote that weren’t, you know, Pollyanna. Her Wikipedia entry says she wrote mostly children’s lit, but I’m not sure how much I trust her Wikipedia entry, seeing as it calls the three Miss Billy books children’s lit (questionable) and Just David a novel for adults (untrue). I have no idea whether it’s right about the rest of her books, since those are the four I’ve just read.

Just David came first, and I think I’d have been able to tell that it was by the author of Pollyanna even if I hadn’t already known. Either that or I would have thought an unknown author was just copying Eleanor Porter.
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