Posts Tagged ‘ruthfielding’

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Ruth Fielding Down East

December 10, 2016

It’s been a while since I read a Ruth Fielding book. PG has added a bunch of them over the last few years, and now seemed like a good time to catch up. Yes, I ought to be reading Christmas stories instead, but when the universe tells me to read Ruth Fielding, I read Ruth Fielding.

Ruth Fielding Down East is the first post-WWI one, sort of. The war is still happening, but Ruth and Helen and Tom are back in the US. Tom will go back overseas again for a bit, but the girls won’t, and it’s time for Ruth to transition back into the world of moving pictures.

I’d forgotten how bad W. Bert Foster’s writing can be (this is one of his last few installments in the series) and it’s bad here, but the worst thing about this book is the plot, and that’s presumably Edward Stratemeyer’s fault.

Ruth is supposed to be smart, is the thing. But when her top secret screenplay is stolen, she continues to keep it top secret, even though she suspects the thief will try to sell it to a producer. The rational thing to do would be to get some description of the scenario on record, so that if it shows up she has some proof that it’s hers. Of course, if she did that there would be considerably less drama when the scenario does resurface.

Character-driven plots are nice. Plot-driven characters, less so, especially when the character in question has been pretty well established through fifteen books. There’s no reason for Ruth to act like this, other than to make the plot work.

So, yeah, I found that infuriating. But somehow, Foster won me over. I think it’s the bit where Ruth stays level-headed during an emergency, saving her friends and getting back her self-confidence. Or the way everything gets wrapped up exactly the way you think it will, and it’s so ridiculous that it’s sort of nice.Or that the random bit about someone lost in the woods turns out to be¬†thematically relevant. Or that Foster is going for something as complex as a theme at all. Mostly I think that Ruth Fielding, as a character, shines through the worst things her writers can do to her. She remains my favorite Stratemeyer product.

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Books I am in the middle of (with explanations)

October 24, 2008

In roughly chronological order

Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures.

This is my favorite of the Ruth Fielding books, and the kind of thing I often pick up when there’s nothing in particular I want to read. But the most recent time I picked up this one was so long ago that I can’t remember where I got up to in the book, and I’ve poached its bookmark for something else. There’s no likelihood I’ll finish this unless I start it again, and it wouldn’t be on this list except that it’s still sitting on my bedside table.

Royal Escape, by Georgette Heyer.

I got this from a table on someone’s lawn. It was sitting next to a sign that said “free books” — the kind of sign I find it almost impossible to resist. And I like Georgette Heyer, most of the time. I mean, I like historical novels, and I like romances with a sense of humor, and Heyer’s books are kind of relaxing, in that there’s enough going on that you don’t get bored, but not enough that you actually have to think. What I do not like, I realized while reading this book, are historical novels with important historical figures as the main characters. It is for the same reason that, as much as I love Rafael Sabatini, I was never able to finish The Lost King. But I still intend to finish that, and I still intend to finish this.

The Economic Naturalist, by Robert H. Frank.

My parents gave this book to by grandmother a year or so ago, and when she was done with it she lent it to me. Frank offers practical, clear explanations of economic problems, and it is fascinating; I raced through half of it one afternoon, but somehow I haven’t had the urge to pick it up since.

The Stolen Train, by Robert Ashley.

Yes, I posted about it without finishing it. In my defense, when I published that post I thought I was going to finish it. Now I’m not so sure. Also, I know it so well that I didn’t really need to finish it.

Hildegarde’s Holiday, By Laura E. Richards.

I do intend to reread the entire Hildegarde series, and I started the second one right after finishing the first. Somehow I got stalled, but I still have the etext window open. I like these books a lot, but this is the least fun, and it doesn’t really pick up until nearly the end.

The Poems of John Donne, edited by Sir H.J.C. Grierson.

Or rather, the introduction. I tend not to read books of poetry straight through. But last week I was flipping through this book and realized I’d never read the introduction — and I like introductions. So I took it with me when I went away last weekend, and if I hadn’t been so busy, I might have finished it. I don’t know now whether I ever will.

The Hidden Staircase.

This was my favorite Nancy Drew book when I was younger, so I picked it up on Monday when I was looking for something easy and comfortable. This is one I will finish. There’s only about a third left, and it won’t take long. As I’ve been reading this, I’ve been thinking a lot about that fact that it was written to a detailed outline, and wondering how much of the content was in the outline and how much the author was able to improvise.

Four Faultless Felons, by G.K. Chesterton.

When I’m leaving the house and I want to take a book with me, and I’m not particularly invested in whatever I’m reading, or it’s too big to fit in my bag, I tend to pick up a book of G.K. Chesterton stories — The Club of Queer Trades or The Paradoxes of Mr, Pond, or Four Faultless Felons. If I had a copy of Tales of the Long Bow, it would fall in the same category. I don’t usually take Father Brown stories, partly because the Father Brown books I have aren’t as skinny as the others, which are Dover editions, and partly because I’m worried that if I read “The Sign of the Broken Sword” too many times, it will lose its effect on me and stop sending chills up my spine.

Anyway, Four Faultless Felons is a fun one, and very typically Chestertonian. I haven’t stopped carrying it around with me yet, so there’s a good chance that I’ll get through at least the first quarter.

The Thirty-Nine Steps, by John Buchan.

I only started this the night before last, and I’m finding it to be a lot of fun. I’d be more than halfway through if I hadn’t decided that I felt more like reading Nancy Drew last night. It’s very different from the movie, so much so that it helps not to think of them as the same story. And there’s something really nice and unpretentious about it.