Six Girls and the Tea Room is, if anything, more satisfactory than Six Girls and Bob, and gives me a lot of hope for the rest of the series. It covers the Scollards’ (and Gretta’s) winter in the city, and mostly revolves around the tea room and circulating library that the older girls set up — but with plenty of room for subplots. There are a lot of subplots. Read the rest of this entry ?
Posts Tagged ‘lauraerichards’
Usually the first book of a trilogy is best, but in the case of Geoffrey Strong, Mrs. Tree and Mrs. Tree’s Will, I think the second one wins. Geoffrey Strong was awfully nice, but it was sort of narrow in focus. With Geoffrey and young Vesta out of the way, Laura E. Richards spreads out a bit. Mrs. Tree, sprightly and domineering aunt to Phoebe and Vesta Blyth, is the focal point, but the town of Elmerton — the once and future Quahaug — revolves around her, so you get to see a lot of it. There’s romance here, but it’s in the background. There’s a plot, sort of, but it’s not particularly important. Mrs. Tree is a bunch of bits strung together, and all the bits are really, really good.
I liked Mrs. Tree’s Will less. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Mrs. Tree dies, and, having lost the focal point of the previous book, Richards never really finds a new one. There’s a lot of reminiscing about Mrs. Tree, but that doesn’t help — it just made me miss her more. To be fair, I guess that adds some realism. Reading Mrs. Tree’s Will is a little bit like mourning for someone, so I won’t say it’s not good, but for the same reasons it’s not a particularly pleasant experience.
One thing I did like about Mrs. Tree’s Will was the way it expanded on the character of Homer Hollopeter, who was a figure of fun in Mrs. Tree, but gets to be a credible person in Mrs. Tree’s Will without losing any of his idiosyncrasies. On the other hand, there’s his brother Pindar, who would fit right in with the other inhabitants of Quahaug if Richards has written him with a lighter hand. The same can be said for the romances of Mrs. Tree’s Will, in one of which Pindar plays a part.
So, Geoffrey Strong was a lovely, self-contained thing. Mrs. Tree is entirely delightful. Mrs. Tree’s Will feels a little like Laura E. Richards felt obligated to write a third book about these characters, but didn’t really feel like it. I’m not sorry I read it…but I also kind of am.
I tried not to rush straight through Hildegarde’s Harvest, but I couldn’t help it. I thought I loved this series the first time I read it, but now that I’ve read it again, it’s become one of my favorite girls’ series, perhaps second only to Patty Fairfield.
Hildegarde’s Harvest is sort of split into two. In the first half, Hildegarde goes to New York for three days to stay with her Great-Aunt Emily and to sell some cakes she has made (little tulip-shaped almond ones, with a peach cream filling) so that she has enough money to buy Christmas presents. While in the city, she manages to run into Colonel Ferrers and Hugh who have been visiting friends, a number of girls who could be characters in an 1890s Gossip Girl, and all the main characters from Queen Hildegarde.
After her return home, the Merryweathers arrive for Christmas, Jack Ferrers returns from Germany, and Hildegarde pines a little for Roger Merryweather. Things wrap up without to much fanfare, and I’m left feeling a little sad that the series is over.
However, the really important thing about Hildegarde’s Harvest is that it opens with Hildegarde imagining a tea party she would like to give, to which she would invite Robin Hood, William of Orange, and Alan Breck Stuart, among others. She would have David Balfour as well, because she thinks he’d get along with Roger, but not any of King Arthur’s knights, because none of them has a sense of humor.
I love this girl.
Somehow I never remember how awesome the Hildegarde books are when I’m not reading them, which is why it took me such a long time to get around to rereading Hildegarde’s Neighbors. I don’t think I love it as much as Hildegarde’s Home, but it does introduce the Merryweathers, who are lots of fun. Bell, the eldest, becomes Hildegarde’s best friend, although she is also very fond of Gertrude (Peggy‘s Snowy Owl) and twins Gerald and Philip, who call each other Obadiah and Ferguson.
There isn’t a lot going on plotwise, but the book is none the worse for that. Hilda discovers a secret room off her bedroom, turns eighteen, goes camping with the Merryweathers, and sort of falls in love with Mr. Merryweather’s half-brother Roger, who is in his mid-twenties.
It’s very cute, because she really looks up to him, and he, while a paragon in most respects, is kind of shy and doesn’t think she likes him. Still, I don’t really want to see Hilda in love; she makes such a perfect teenager. Which is not to say that teenagers can’t fall in love, but that when they do, in books of this sort, they tend to get very serious and grow up all at once. Hilda still has almost a whole book to go before she really grows up, though.
When I say Hilda makes a perfect teenager, I really mean it. She’s still sort of a kid, and plays games with younger children, but she’s also apt to remember that she’s supposed to be a dignified young woman in the middle of playing Indians with Jerry and Phil. And she tries to take on new responsibilities, and take care of the younger children in the book, and altogether it’s far more convincing than anything you’ll find in Louisa May Alcott.
Laura E. Richards seems to me to have a very good understanding of how young people act, even if the characters in her books are a bit on the unnaturally good side. And then — I know I say this about almost every children’s book I like, but it’s a really great indicator of quality — when Richard’s characters laugh and joke and play games, you genuinely believe that they’re enjoying themselves, and you laugh along with them. I mean, what more could you ask for?
The internet is a very distracting thing, and it often gets in the way of my reading, especially since so many of the books I read are only available to me via the internet.
But as of Tuesday, I am the proud possessor of an Amazon Kindle and can read e-texts without distractions. I have had time to read Vicky Van, Hildegarde’s Home — although pdfs are not ideal Kindle material — a somewhat disturbing book of Agatha Christie stories, a book of Father Brown stories, a debate between George Bernard Shaw and G.K. Chesterton, Danny the Champion of the World, a Christmas story by Connie Willis, and about a third of a mystery novel from the 1880s called The Diamond Coterie. So, yeah, I’m enjoying myself.
But right now I’m here to talk about Hildegarde’s Home, which may be my favorite of the Hildegarde books. She seems more like a genuine girl in this one — she’s hard-working, knowledgeable, and full of enthusiasm, but there’s no sense that she’s infallible, which is a danger in books of this sort, and however good and smart Hildegarde Grahame is, her mother is better and smarter. Also, everyone — the author, Mrs. Grahame, and Hildegarde herself — has a sense of humor. Read the rest of this entry ?
Hildegarde’s Holiday is a meandering sort of book, and it also sort of forms a break in the narrative of the series. Since the end of Queen Hildegarde, Bubble and Pink Chirk’s mother has died, and they have been given a home by the Hartleys. Bubble has been sent to school in the city, as he wants to be a doctor, and Pink has been renamed Rose and has just had an operation to restore to her the use of her legs.
Rose needs to convalesce a bit, preferably in the country, so she and Hilda go to spend the summer with Hilda’s great aunt Wealthy Bond. (Similarities between Hilda Grahame and Elsie Dinsmore: 1. Both have maiden aunts named Wealthy. 2. Neither drinks caffeine.)
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