Posts Tagged ‘stratemeyer’


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.


Edwardian/WWI-era fiction at Edwardian Promenade

February 1, 2012

There have been a lot of articles and blog posts floating around lately about what to read if you’re into Downton Abbey. One in particular, which talked about Elizabeth von Arnim apropos of one character giving a copy of Elizabeth and Her German Garden to another, made Evangeline at Edwardian Promenade say, “hey, what about Elinor Glyn?” Which, obviously, is the correct response to everything. And then I read it, and thought, “yeah, Elizabeth and her German Garden was popular when it came out in 1898, but would people really be trying to get each other to read a fifteen year-old(ish) novel by a German author during World War I?” And then we decided that we could probably come up with an excellent list of Edwardian and World War I-era fiction that tied in the Downton Abbey. And so we did.

It’s a pretty casual list, mostly composed of things we came up with off the tops of out heads, a bit of research on Evangeline’s part and a bit of flipping through advertisements on mine, so we’re making no claims to be exhaustive. If you have suggestions for additions to the list, leave a comment.


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.


The lost outlines of “Carolyn” “Keene”

October 8, 2008

I found this Nancy Drew parody the other day and I think it’s excellent. Cleolinda Jones has distilled the Nancy Drew books to their predictable and ridiculous, yet hugely enjoyable, essence.

“E. Stop meddling, Nancy Drew! We’re so dangerous that we

1. made a threatening call to your house!
2. left a threatening letter in your mailbox!
3. ran you off the road!
4. broke into your bedroom!
5. drugged and kidnapped you!
6. left you

a. tied up in a closet!
b. rolled up in a blanket! A really dangerous blanket!
c. locked up someplace where NO ONE WILL EVER FIND YOU!

1. (except that George totally does)
2. (except that Bess totally does)
3. (except that Ned totally does)
3b. (not that you’re going to put out, even so)”

Read the rest here.


The Dana Girls #9: The Mystery at the Gatehouse

June 25, 2007

In The Mystery at the Gatehouse, Louise and Jean help investigate the disappearance of Mr. Warrington, a wealthy businessman who lives near Starhurst and is being investigated by the government for reasons that are never fully explained.

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The Dana Girls #3: In the Shadow of the Tower

June 25, 2007

We next meet Jean and Louise Dana two books later, in In the Shadow of the Tower, an evocative title that has very little to do with the story.
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The Dana Girls #1: By the Light of the Study Lamp

June 25, 2007

So, The Dana Girls books are nothing special, really, but they are kind of interesting. Apparently they were meant to be a sort of cross between Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

On the Hardy Boys side:

They’re siblings, and one has dark hair and the other has light hair.

On the Nancy Drew side:

They’re girls

Hmmm. That seems to be about it. The fact that they’re amateur detectives could count towards either side, and the fact that they’re in school and actually, you know, go to class sometimes couldn’t count towards either.
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New acquisitions.

June 20, 2007

The camp where my brother works has a lot of old children’s books. My brother told me about it a while back, but I didn’t see it until yesterday, when my parents and I drove him up to Maine. Most of the books are in terrible condition, but there’s some really excellent stuff. The camp director let me pick out some to take, and I am going to replace them with newer books.

I got an Alger I didn’t have — Frank Hunter’s Peril — Three Dana Girls mysteries (that’s a Stratemeyer series that began in the mid thirties), and Slippy McGee, by Marie Conway Oemler. I was so excited when I saw the latter that I think I squeaked.

I have a copy of Slippy McGee! I can’t wait to reread it.


Tom Swift in the City of Gold

June 18, 2007

I thought that it would be pretty difficult not to like a book containing a chapter called “Beware The Head-Hunters!” But then, I didn’t expect a Tom Swift book to make blatantly untrue statements about anything but science.

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Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest

March 25, 2007

So. Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest. This one was below average, but I think al the later ones in the series probably are. There’s also a distinct flavor of racism about the main story, which involves Ruth making a movie star out of an American Indian princess. The girl’s name is Wonota, and although everyone likes her and she’s beautiful and smart, there was an unspoken “even though she’s an Indian” at the end of almost every sentence describing her.

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Ruth Fielding at the War Front

March 24, 2007

Ruth Fielding at the War Front is a nice little piece of propaganda. Stratemeyer’s perfect American boys and girls all had to do their duty by their country when the U.S. entered WWI, of course, so in this book, Ruth is working for the Red Cross, Tom is a lieutenant in the army, and Helen is doing something or other in Paris. I would probably know what, specifically, if I’d read Ruth Fielding in the Red Cross, the book before this one. Anyway, Helen is out of the picture for most of this one.

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Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures

March 23, 2007

While I’ve enjoyed the Ruth Fielding books I’ve been reading, I haven’t been hugely enthusiastic about them. That changes with Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures. This is my favorite book in the series. I think it’s the one in which Ruth’s potential starts to be realized, and also, it’s a lot of fun.

This is the story of Ruth’s last year at her boarding school, Brierwood Hall, and Ruth and her friends are convincingly nostalgic and sad to leave. Also, they’re not guaranteed diplomas unless they get very good grades, so they all work hard. It’s a more realistic portrayal of school life than you see in most of these series.

But the really special thing about this book is that it’s all about the moving pictures of the title. One day soon before school starts, Ruth and the Cameron twins come across a film crew as they’re out berry-picking. A pretty young actress is posing on a tree branch overhanging a river. The director keeps telling her she doesn’t look scared enough, and finally she’s like, “You know, that’s really funny, because I am scared.” And then she falls into the river. Read the rest of this entry ?


Ruth Fielding on Cliff Island

March 23, 2007

So, it looks like I’m going to keep working my way through the Ruth Fielding books at Project Gutenberg. Ruth Fielding on Cliff Island takes place a year after Ruth Fielding at Snow Camp. Ruth and her friends — more of them this time — spend Christmas vacation on Cliff Island, which has recently been purchased by Ruth’s friend Belle Tingley’s father. Coincidentally, Ruth is acquainted with a boy named Jerry Sheming, who was run off the island by real estate agent Rufus Blent after Jerry’s uncle, Pete Wilton, was committed to an insane asylum. Yeah, it’s a bit complicated. Pete always said he owned the island, but the deeds were in his treasure box, which was buried by a landslide.

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Ruth Fielding at Snow Camp + a question

March 22, 2007

Ruth Fielding at Snow Camp is more the sort of Ruth Fielding book I’m used to — lots of little adventures and one mystery that is a kind of background subplot. Ruth, Tom and Helen Cameron, and six of their friends spend a vacation at a big log cabin in upstate New York. The setting provides the adventures: a panther, a snowstorm, etc., and the mystery involves a local boy going by the name of someone who was recently murdered.

The scenes in which the kids are supposed to be having fun are the weakest part of the book. They don’t enjoy themselves as convincingly as the characters in a book by, say, Percy Keese Fitzhugh or Carolyn Wells. Also, one of the “funny” incidents parallels a scene in Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl a little bit too closely. But then, Ruth herself is a lot like Polly Milton, and that’s one of the things that raises this series above a lot of the others. Ruth actually has a personality — she’s gentle and inclined to worry, but also patient and determined. This gives her a great advantage over, say, the Rover boys, who can each be described in a word(Dick: smart, Sam: amiable, Tom: sociopath).
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Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill

March 21, 2007

After my two recent disappointments with Romance Island and The Second Honeymoon, I decided to read a Stratemeyer Syndicate book next. There’s hardly anyone more reliable than Stratemeyer; by the time you’ve read a few of his productions you know exactly what to expect from the rest, and that’s not always such a bad thing.

So. Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill, by Alice Emerson AKA various employees of Edward Stratemeyer under a collective assumed name. I’d never read this one before, although I’ve read a bunch of the ones where she’s older. It’s the first in the series, so we learn how the orphaned Ruth comes to the Red Mill to live with her uncle, Jabez Potter. He’s the surly miser type, and I like him because when he softens toward Ruth at the end of the book, he doesn’t get any less surly or miserly — I don’t care much whether characters are good or bad. I just like them to maintain some kind of integrity.

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