I have found the worst ever L.T. Meade book. Or at least I hope I have. I wouldn’t like to think it gets any worse. This is kind of an unedited rant, so, you know, be warned.
At the start of Hollyhock we’re introduced to two families, so symmetrical that if the widowed father of one and the widowed mother of the other weren’t siblings, this would be The Brady Bunch. And it gets worse: George Lennox’s daughters are Jasmine, Gentian, Hollyhock, Rose of the Garden and Delphinium, known collectively as the Flower Girls, while his sister Mrs. Constable’s sons are the Precious Stones: Jasper, Sapphire, Garnet, Opal and Emerald. Only it turns out those aren’t their real names; they all have normal ones: Lucy, Wallace, Ronald, etc. that they don’t know about. Calling a little boy Opal and concealing from him that he’s really called Andrew sounds almost abusive.
Anyway, there’s a lot of Flower Girl and Precious Stone-related exposition, but none of it matters because you’re not going to see most of these kids again. I mean, Jasmine is usually around, and Jasper and Gentian show up from time to time, but mostly this is a book about Hollyhock, one of Meade’s beloved troublesome but fascinating heroines, and her relationship with Lady Leucha Villiers, who is both the secondary heroine and the villain. And not in the usual L.T. Meade way, where the quiet, sensible girl and the naughty gypsyish one become best friends. Although, to be fair, I haven’t read A Very Naughty Girl since I was in high school.
Anyway. Read the rest of this entry ?