Posts Tagged ‘williamsons’

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Christmas Stories: Angel Unawares

December 19, 2017

I wasn’t sure I was going to manage any Christmas stories this year, but here’s one, at least: Angel Unawares, by Alice Williamson with, I presume, very little help from Charlie. Based on this and the one other Williamsons Christmas story I’ve read, they like spending their Christmases in the South of France.

The story takes place over the course of a single Christmas Eve (the Unity of Christmastimes!) mid-World War I. Dick Odell is doing something at the American Embassy in Paris, and sends his wife Elinor and daughter Angel to Mentone to remove them from danger. Angel wanders off while her governess is distracted, and finds herself in the garden of the Valois family, where she plays with a kitten and overhears some tedious exposition about the state of the Valois finances (not good). Angel decides to help them out, and when her mother disapproves of her first plan, she comes up with a second one.

Angel Unawares has its moments, but they don’t add up to anything particularly good. What ought to be the most exciting part of the story is the most boring, and what ought to be the most affecting passes too quickly. I liked Angel and her mother, but I wanted more from and for them.

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The Guests of Hercules

April 26, 2017

I love Alice Williamson, but I don’t trust her at all, so when she was like, “Here, check out Mary Grant. She was brought up in a convent in Scotland and she has ‘wild blood.’ I’m going to take her to Monte Carlo!” I was worried.

A.M. and C.N. Williamson, collectively (and probably also individually), loved Monte Carlo, but I normally avoid their stories set there because reading about gambling makes me extremely anxious. I was excited when The Guests of Hercules opened with a wealthy young girl going out into the world after deciding at the last moment not to be a nun–but only for about a minute, because Alice Williamson isn’t, say, Margaret Widdemer, and when her heroines go out into the world alone, it isn’t always kind to them. Also I’ve, you know, read books before, so from the first mention of Monte Carlo, my brain was shouting, “No, stop, she’s going to get addicted to gambling and lose all her money.” Then a little later I began to wonder whether everything was leading up to an attempted murder. I’m actually not sure how I managed to get through the book.

The things I feared happen roughly as I expected them to happen (I have read books before) but Alice Williamson makes it alright. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Vision House/8th Blogiversary

March 4, 2015

Today is the eighth anniversary of Redeeming Qualities. I’m not doing anything particularly special for the occasion, but it seemed like a good time to wrap up the Williamsons kick I’ve been on. Also — obviously — I want to thank everyone who reads the blog for sticking around. I started this blog figuring writing into the void about the books I was reading was better than talking about them to people who didn’t care, but that doesn’t mean I ever wanted there to actually be a void, and I really enjoy interacting with you guys.

Anyway. Brian said Vision House was his favorite Williamson book, so it seemed like a good one to read next. And…well, I can see why this would be someone’s favorite. It’s not mine. But it’s crazy. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Golden Silence

February 27, 2015

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The title page: so lovely. The book: so racist.

My top three most appallingly racist things about The Golden Silence — another travel adventure from A.M. and C.N. Williamson — not counting that thing where all the Arabs are kind of evil, are as follows:

  1. Liberal use of the n-word, always in reference to someone whose skin is “hardly darker than old ivory.”
  2. Referring to drums used by various North Africans as tom toms.
  3. The obsessive cataloging of everyone’s complexions.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Winnie Childs, the Shop Girl

February 23, 2015

Blog update: I’ve been pretty depressed, I guess? I’ve been having trouble finishing books since November, I think. And work is pretty stressful, and even though I can get pretty vehement about mental health problems being legitimate health problems, it’s really difficult to say, “hey, I spend much of my day wanting to cry, and sometimes I skip lunch because I don’t want to have to choose what to eat, so I’m going to take a sick day.” Especially if it’s unlikely a sick day will help.

Anyway. The Williamsons maybe sort of do help.

Williamsons update: It’s official. My favorite Williamsons book is Set in Silver. Sorry, Secret History Revealed by Lady Peggy O’Malley. You’re still the book that made me love the Williamsons, but Set in Silver is better.

Anyway, I reread Set in Silver, and finished it, which was encouraging. And then I read another Williamsons: Winnie Childs, the Shop Girl. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Adventure of Princess Sylvia / Princess Virginia

June 18, 2013

So, yeah, The Adventure of Princess Sylvia and Princess Virginia (the latter credited to both Williamsons, the former to Alice) are the same book. According to this advertisement, Sylvia is the original and Virginia is the revision. But, contrary to the advertisement’s assertion, it hardly qualifies as a new story.

Almost everyone’s names are changed, as are some nationalities. The Ruritanian country of Rhaetia retains its name, but its emperor is now Leopold rather than Maximilian. And Princess Virginia adds some American blood to Sylvia’s mix of English and German. Things are a little more up to date — it’s a different English monarch that provides the heroine and her mother with a home, and there’s a sprinking of automobiles in Virginia that aren’t present in Sylvia. The dialog is a little snappier (as Jenn pointed out), and there are places where the plot has been smoothed over a little, making it seem less as if A.M. Williamson made it up as she went along. If you’re going to read one of these, Virginia is better, but again: same book. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Girl Who Had Nothing

March 31, 2013

I know I’ve said before that no one ever should have let Alice Williamson publish without Charlie, but I think I’ve changed my mind. I’m still not a fan of To M.L.G., and Shay says that The Adventure of Princess Sylvia isn’t so good either, but I just finished The Girl Who Had Nothing and I’m really glad it exists. (For what it’s worth, while this book is credited solely to Mrs. C.N.Williamson, it was published while he was alive.) This book, though. It’s like a cross between Miss Cayley’s Adventures and The Career of Katherine Bush, and it’s not as good as either of those, but that just means that it’s not as good as the beginning of Miss Cayley or everything but the end of Katherine Bush. It’s better than the less good parts of both of those. Read the rest of this entry ?