Posts Tagged ‘carolynwells’

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The Man Who Fell Through the Earth

April 3, 2018

The Man Who Fell Through the Earth might be the cheatiest of Carolyn Wells’ mysteries — even cheatier than the one where everyone insists there’s no secret passage and then there’s a secret passage. But I liked it. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Mark of Cain

March 30, 2018

A funny thing about Carolyn Wells — one of many funny things about Carolyn Wells — is that, brilliant as her detectives are, their assistants are smarter. Fleming Stone and Pennington Wise may make clever deductions, but it’s always Fibsy and Zizi with the big breakthroughs — and Stone and Wise with most of the credit. And yet there’s so much trust between Penny Wise and Zizi, and between Stone and Fibsy, that I’m not mad about it. The Mark of Cain is Fibsy’s origin story, something I never thought to want, but am happy to have. And while Fibsy deserves much of the credit in this one, too, I’ve never been so happy to see Fleming Stone. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Deep Lake Mystery

March 26, 2018

Today is the 66th anniversary of Carolyn Wells’ death. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading a lot of Wells’ books lately. And taking notes.

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Carolyn Wells’ mystery novels are best appreciated when you set your standards low. Expect uncomfortable family relationships, people falling in love at first sight, and a solution to the mystery that makes you feel like Wells might be cheating. That way you can appreciate Wells’ moments of charm, and good-naturedly roll your eyes through the rest of the book, instead of throwing it at a wall. The Deep Lake Mystery has all those expected elements, and enough charm to resign me to the more than averagely crazy ending. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Patty-Bride

March 19, 2018

There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to write a straightforward review of a Patty Fairfield book, and yet here we are. This is my fourth attempt at writing about Patty-Bride. The third time was not the charm.

You know how books often go downhill when the romance wraps up? This is a whole book of that, but with some spies to spice things up. Two weeks ago when Patty Blossom ended, no world events had been mentioned in the entire series. But now the US has entered WWI, and when Patty isn’t mooning over Bill Farnsworth and writing him appallingly gooey letters, she’s knitting socks for soldiers and working for war-related charities. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Patty Blossom

May 18, 2017

For once, we’ve got a reasonably coherent plot in Patty Blossom. Wells uses the advent of a pair of ridiculous Bohemian types to draw out Patty’s feelings about Phil and Bill, and she finally comes to decisions about both of them.

Sam and Alla Blaney don’t call themselves Bohemians — they claim that only fake Bohemians do that. They’re pretty caricaturish, though. Alla wears shapeless cloths in ugly colors and parts her hair in the middle, and Sam has long hair and writes odd poetry. And actually, if there’s something that’s solidly in Carolyn Wells’ skillset, it’s parodying poetry, and I feel like there should be more of that here. I’m not a huge fan of Wells’ verse, and if one of her mysteries entertains me more than in irritates me I count it as a win, but I do like it when Wells’ other selves find their way into the Patty books. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Room with the Tassels

May 2, 2017

Carolyn Wells’ mysteries are…not very good, in general. The solutions to the mysteries feel like cop-outs. Her detectives and their weird child assistants are entertaining, but because she only ever brings them in for about the last third of the book, they feel like intruders. She’s excessively fond of secret passages, but rarely gets any fun out of them. The characters are inconsistent and usually unappealing, too. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Patty’s Fortune

September 24, 2014

Patty’s Fortune is divided pretty clearly into two sections. In the first Bill Farnsworth hosts a house party in an empty hotel, and in the second Philip Van Reypen’s aunt attempts to coerce Patty into marrying Phil. Hopefully that will make it easier to talk about. I’ve been struggling with these last few books, mostly because I have a hard time telling them apart.

The house party thing is, I guess, Wells’ chance to revisit the premise of The Dorrance Domain, except with wealthy young people being waited on by shoals of servants instead of children in straitened circumstances mostly waiting on themselves. The party consists of twelve people, including the Kenerleys as chaperones, a new man called Chick Channing, and no Philip. Yay! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Patty’s Romance

September 16, 2014

The books in the series are very much running together for me by the time I get to Patty’s Romance, and this one is no exception. Although I guess that’s a funny thing to day about a book that has, as its central incident, Patty’s kidnapping. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Patty’s Suitors

September 15, 2014

Patty’s Suitors is pretty much Kit Cameron’s book, if you’re looking for an easy way to remember it (and I am). It also gives us proposals from Ken and Phil (yes, again) as well as another flying visit from Big Bill Farnsworth, but Kit is new and Kit is involved throughout. And Kit is funny, and Phil Van Reypen hates him, so I’m pretty cool with that. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Dorrance Domain

April 3, 2014

Cathlin recommended The Dorrance Domain, and I was frustrated enough with Peter the Brazen (which I’m still reading, bit by excruciatingly awful bit) that I started it almost immediately. It’s by Carolyn Wells, and it’s about a family consisting of four kids and their grandmother, who sick of life in New York boarding houses, decide to try living in a defunct hotel.

It’s a good concept, and it’s Carolyn Wells, so the execution should be good, too. But instead the whole thing just feels kind of halfhearted. I hear “kids living in an empty hotel” and yeah, I think, “oh cool, everyone can choose whichever room they want” and “they can spread out all across the hotel dining room.” And Wells provides that. But I also think I’m going to get kids biting off more than they can chew at first, and making mistakes, and slowly becoming more competent, and there’s barely any of that. Saying “barely any” instead of “none” is really nice of me, actually. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Reviews at EP: The Clue

July 10, 2011

Several weeks ago, I followed up my reread of Vicky Van with my first ever reading of The Clue, Carolyn Wells’ first mystery novel. It’s possible that it’s also her best mystery novel, although I also kind of think it’s her worst ever use of Fleming Stone.

 

Unrelatedly, I’m so fond of recieving recommendations from readers that I’ve put up a page specifically for that purpose. You can find it here or in the sidebar.

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Vicky Van

June 18, 2011

I’ve been pretty busy lately — I’m sort of moving tomorrow, for one thing — but today is the 149th anniversary of Carolyn Wells’ birth, and I figured I should a) do something Carolyn Wells-related today, and b) think up something really excitingly Carolyn Wells-related for next year’s 150th.

So. Vicky Van. My usual reaction to Carolyn Wells’ mystery novels is not entirely respectful, to say the least. I mock because I love. But I feel no need to mock Vicky Van.

Our narrator is Chester Calhoun, one of those lawyers who so frequently pop up as narrators in mystery novels, using their clientele as an excuse to investigate a mystery, and usually falling in love along the way. Chester lives with his sister and his aunt in a house on the upper east side, and across the street lives Victoria Van Allen, known to her friends as Vicky Van. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Reviews at EP: The Visits of Elizabeth, etc.

January 17, 2011

My new post at Edwardian Promenade is up! It’s about one of my favorite Elinor Glyn books, The Visits of Elizabeth, and two sequels, one by Glyn and one…not.

I found myself thinking, halfway through Elizabeth Visits America, about the way books take place in their own separate worlds. I mean, I often think about how an author’s style sort of creates an alternate universe, so the works of Elinor Glyn take place in a world where women are naturally a bit conniving and men are very simple and countries age like people, but here I was thinking more about how I read a lot of books set in the same time period, but somehow I always relate them in terms of style, not history. Anyway, there’s a bit in Elizabeth Visits America where Elizabeth is in New York, and she talks about young people who aren’t out in society yet, and how the boys and girls are as familiar with each other as siblings, and how their dances are almost like children’s parties, and I suddenly realized that — remember, this is 1909 — hey, that’s Patty Fairfield that Elizabeth is meeting, basically. So, I don’t know, I thought I’d share that.

Anyway, the post is here.

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Because we think she’s awesome.

October 13, 2010

So, I have no idea what happened with my last post.

I wrote a couple of paragraphs about The Social Secretary and saved them as a draft. Then I got distracted by The Bookman. There was a link I wanted to save, and I pasted it into the draft. And then, instead of saving it, I pressed publish.

I unpublished it pretty quickly, but it looks from the site stats like it might have stayed in the RSS feed? If you saw it, I apologize.

If you went to the URL in the post, you probably found a piece about how Carolyn Wells wanted a new word for light verse. Eh. But if you looked around a little more, you might have found the thing I didn’t want to lose track of. It was on the letters page.

A lady in Chicago, who signs her letter “F. E.,” asks a question and makes a remark. We shall consider each of these separately.

(i) Why are you always so respectful to Carolyn Wells?

Because we admire her so much.

I have omitted the remark.

From The Bookman, p. 170

Also, the full post on The Social Secretary is up now.

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Patty’s Butterfly Days

May 5, 2010

I had meant to finish writing about the Patty Fairfield books in order at some indefinite point in the future, but I had a hankering to reread Patty’s Butterfly Days this week.

Butterfly Days is one of my favorites, I think. I’m pretty sure the only one I’ve read more often is Patty’s Summer Days. In it, Patty is left alone at the seaside with her friend Mona while Mr. Fairfield and Nan take a trip to the mountains. Mona lives in a big, over-decorated mansion, and she and Patty go to a lot of parties, give a few themselves, and are generally unproductive members of society. It’s really enjoyable.

I, um, don’t think I’ve ever had to to this before, but: SPOILERS AHEAD. Read the rest of this entry ?