Posts Tagged ‘maryjaneholmes’


Tracy Park, again

January 8, 2015

Several things explain why I haven’t posted much lately — some extended Netflixing, rereading things that don’t fit here, like Mary Stewart and some early John Le Carre, and also rereading, yet again and very slowly, Mary Jane Holmes’ Tracy Park. This isn’t a review. I couldn’t write a review. I wrote a really long synopsis once, and that’s here. This is, I guess, an appreciation.

It’s ridiculous how much I love this book. Objectively it’s not very good, probably, but I’m not objective about it. And anyway, I think it’s Holmes’ best work, and that counts for something. It’s got things that others of her books have — insane people, and the name ‘Hastings,’ and a lot of low-key cruelty — but it’s also a lot kinder than her other books. No one is stripped entirely of their wealth, or left to die alone. No one goes  crazy to the point of raving and tearing their hair out. Frank never has to make a full confession to his brother. Everyone’s okay with each other in the end. Read the rest of this entry ?


Christmas Stories: Christmas Stories

December 14, 2011

It’s not as if I needed another reason to like Mary Jane Holmes, but I’m grateful to her for creating the need for this subject line, which may be my favorite ever.

I wish she had a better grasp of her subject matter, though.  I’m not talking about stories like “Adam Floyd,” a straightforward but tense religious romance, or “John Logan,” a fairly cute story of a young couple renovating their house that could do with some more hijinks. I don’t know that I’m even talking about “Red-Bird,” the story of a Floridian bird who, after being captured and caged for a year, returns home to find that her family and friends have moved on with their lives. There was a bit of Christmas in that one, but I don’t know if it’s meant to  be a Christmas story — and that’s kind of the problem with the ones that are meant to be Christmas stories. It seems a little bit as if Holmes, when she said “Christmas stories,” meant “stories with Christmas in them,” which isn’t the same thing at all. Read the rest of this entry ?


Darkness and Daylight

March 31, 2011

It’s Mary Jane Holmes time again, and if you like her, you’ll like this. Darkness and Daylight has a special claim on my affections, because it features a Secret Insane Wife, and obviously that is my favorite, favorite thing. But this is a book for connoisseurs of fictional coincidence as well as connoisseurs of fictional insane wives, and I like to think that I’m both. I mean, I suppose it’s not too strange that the Massachusetts estate Grace Atherton inherits from her elderly husband is next door to the childhood home of Richard Harrington, the man she jilted when she was a teenager in England. Or that Harrington reencounters the little Swedish girl he saved from drowning in Germany that one time. Or that Arthur St. Claire falls in love with his wife’s long-lost half-sister who is supposed to be dead, although that’s pushing it a little. But that all three should be true in one book? Or that the Swedish girl (Eloise Temple) and the long-lost sister (Marguerite Bernard) are one and the same, and that Grace Atherton adopts her from an orphanage in New York under the name of Edith Hastings? That’s almost more than I can deal with. Although, to be fair, “almost more than I can deal with” is Mrs. Holmes’ specialty. Read the rest of this entry ?


Dora Deane

March 29, 2009

Although I’ve read Tracy Park about four times and love it to a degree that is truly silly, I never read anything else by Mary Jane Holmes. Part of it was just laziness, but I think it was also because I was worried that her other books wouldn’t be as enjoyable, and that I’d be disappointed. Now that I’ve read Dora Deane, however, I no longer have to worry. That’s not to say that Dora Deane is anywhere near as awesome as Tracy Park. It’s not. And it’s different in a lot of ways, many of which I think are due to its having been written thirty years earlier. But Mrs. Holmes still pushes all the right buttons. I think she appeals to my worst instincts as a reader, and I kind of love it. Dora Deane owes a lot to The Wide, Wide World, what with its pretty orphan who is sent to live with her aunt after her apparently perfect mother dies, but where Ellen Montgomery’s story was all about cultivating a certain kind of moral and religious strength, Dora Deane is pure melodrama. Read the rest of this entry ?


One Year of Redeeming Qualities

March 10, 2008

Last week was the one-year anniversary of this blog. I still enjoy writing about weird old books. I’m a little bit impressed that I’ve managed to keep it going for so long. I don’t know that there’s much else to say about it, but I thought I should do something to celebrate, so here’s a list of my favorite finds since I began writing Redeeming Qualities, in order of discovery.

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Tracy Park, 11/11

April 26, 2007

I don’t know why Jerrie and Harold think everyone will be surprised that they’re engaged. They’re the only two characters in the book that didn’t realize they were in love with each other, and when they announce that they’re going to be married, everyone tells them so. Read the rest of this entry ?


Tracy Park, 10/11

April 10, 2007

It’s been a while since I updated, I know. Sadly, sometimes schoolwork has to take precedence. When we last saw the characters of Tracy Park, Jerrie was convalescing, Maude was still pretty sick, and Harold had gone to Tacoma, WA on business for Billy Peterkin. Arthur was off on the west coast, hoping to meet with highwaymen or something. Jerrie had just learned that Harold was suspected of stealing Mrs. Tracy’s diamond’s ten years previously — and hey, that’s what comes of not clearing him of suspicion properly in the first place — and in spite of the fact that she’s not quite well yet, she immediately got up and set out for the park house.
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