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Jolly Foul Play!: Robin Stevens, Puffin, 2016

The fourth ‘A Most Unladylike Mystery’ or ‘Wells and Wong’ mystery follows our heroines, schoolgirl detectives Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, back to Deepdean School. Read more... )
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Pixie O’Shaughnessy: Mrs George de Horne Vaizey. The Religious Tract society, Thirteenth Edition

It’s nearly 20 years since I bought and, presumably, first read this book. I decided to reacquaint myself with the character having purchased ‘More about Pixie’ in 2016 and got my opportunity over the Christmas holidays - the book features a striking New Year's Eve party. Before I rereat it, Read more... )
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Daisy Pulls it Off (Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Sherman Theatre, 4/4/2009)

Daisy Pulls it Off
Written by: Denise Deegan

Well played, Denise Deegan!

Last night, I went to see Daisy Pulls it Off, which I have been itching to see since I first heard of it - a play that gently sends up and celebrates girls' boarding school stories. At the start of the year, I saw that this production was on and rushed to buy a ticket. As the date approached, I began to wonder how they'd handle the material, I only knew a rough outline of the story, but I started worrying that the production would poke fun in the wrong way, but it didn't and now I really want a copy of the play. Oh, and I'm really rather chuffed.

Read more... )
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I'm reading Girls Gone By's republishing of Evelyn Finds Herself - what an absorbing book, and I definitely join the readers who rate it highly. I'm partly writing this to defer reaching the ending, partly to get these thoughts down now. I read some of the introductory stuff - some I left to read after finishing the book and some for after I've read a non-fiction book that I have about girls' education (don't hold your breath about when that'll be). Read more... )
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Dimsie Carries On: Dorita Fairlie Bruce Oxford University Press

This is my post about buying the Dimises I've been reading and reviewing of late. (Tes, it can easily take over six months between the purchase of a book and the reading of it in my world.) Closer scrutiny has shown that I've got reprints, so there must have been other dust jackets originally. Even closer scrutiny (ie the dust jacket breaking up somewhat) has revealed that it's two sided, the other side was a dust jacket for another book entirely (Adventure for Two by Elsie J. Oxenham). I don't think I've come across that before!

To the book )
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Dimsie Goes to School: Dorita Fairlie Bruce. Oxford Univerity Press. Reprinted, 1949.

This is the first of three Dimsie books that I have to read...

And so, we begin at the beginning. I read my first Dimsie book after reading a couple of Springdale books, and my impression of the Jane Willard Foundation school was that it was always raining in comprison, and that they were always doing drills (which sounded beastly) and what kind of a name is the 'Jane Willard Foundation', wondered I. Ouf, typing it out, that opinion comes on a bit stronger than I expected. But rereading and reading more Dimsie books toned it down, and I'm glad to have the opportunity to get a fuller picture of Dimsie and 'Jane's.'. Another thing is that I was used to Dimsie as a Senior, so having her be in the Hilary Garth role is strange.

Read more... )

edited for typos on 12.1.10
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Is Meg Cabot the L. M. Montgomery of her generation? In the future, will daughters read their mothers' copies of her books and pass them on to their own daughters? Is there another author who fits that bill?

The comparison between the writers, and thus these non-deadly serious questions, arose in my mind partly because of various discussions I've seen on lj about how to define 'girls' fiction' - when you think about it, the definition can be as broad as you like. (I recently read a book where someone in her mid-twenties was described as a girl. I am not sure if that is heartening or patronising.) It's also and perhaps mainly because I've read a lot of both's books of late - over the last year, I've read Cabot's All American Girl, Size 12 is Not Fat and The Queen of Babble and more (to come: reviews of Nicola and the Viscount and Teen Idol), because her books seem to pop up a lot in charity shops and the like. Actually, that may argue against them being kind of book mothers keep to pass on. I tend to pass on 'disposable' books to charity shops, I assume that so do other people. Given the fact that Cabot is seen as a fluffy YA writer, maybe readers 'outgrow' her. Or maybe this is an example of this generation of young girls' attention deficit disorder. Though I do believe that Cabot has a tendency to produce quantity over quality, sometimes, I've kept all my copies of her books, purchased second or first hand.

Of Montgomery's work, most recently, I've read Pat of Beech House and The Blue Castle (the last is definitely recommended, it's a gem) and I want to read the former's sequel very much. I grew up loving the 'Anne' series and made the acquaintance of 'Emily' at college.

So what similarities do I see? Both are popular - although I haven't read any of Cabot's signature books, The Princess Diary series, I have seen the movie adaptations, which just emphasises how very, very popular she is. Both write heroine-centric books for girls, with a tendency toward series (the Anne and Emily books are what Montgomery is best known for) that inspire loyalty. They're also interested in character growth - which seperates them from more static serials. Readers do get to know what happens next.

The first Cabot books I read were the Mediator series, back when they were published under the pen-name Jenny Carroll. Though there's a supernatural twist, they have elements to be seen in most of Cabot's books, a likeable, good-hearted heroine who needs to learn something (IMO Susannah seems to devolve into more of a ditz the longer the series goes on), a delicious love interest (oh, Jesse, Jesse, Jesse), a finger on the popculture pulse (The Mediator series would probably not have existed without Buffy and Teen Idol confirms that Cabot knew of the show ). There's also a keen sensitivity to the Queen Bee system of hierarchy imposed among girls and women. The Mediator books are set in a high school, but similar ground is examined in The News Chronicle series, set at a New York newspaper.

Although both writers are known as children's writers, they've also got books for older readers - the divide is less sharp in Montgomery's books, because her series follow her heroines into adulthood (see the Anne series). In fact, the description of Anne of Green Gables as a children's book seems to have been foisted upon it in recent years.

The packaging of the adult Cabot books is interesting in this regard, as is the content. They're sold as chicklit, but the Princess Diary connection is not ignored. How could it be? She's less circumspect than Montgomery was about sex - it's a different different era - although, for instance, the News Chronicle series is fluffier, cuter and more likely to close the bedroom door early than a lot of other chick lit, and when you see the enclosed fan comments in her kids' books, you understand why. Having said that, as a reviewer reminded me, Montgomery does cover unfluffy events in The Blue Castle.

Delicious heroes aside, I had tended to think of Cabot's books as enjoyable froth, but disposable, something to be jumped on if I saw it cheap in a charity shop, but Size 12 is Not Fat, a Heather Wells mystery and the first in a series hooked me, mixing a slow-burn love story, with the reinvention of a former pop star as an independent grown-up and amateur sleuth. I came to Cabot as an adult, admittedly one who reads a lot of children's and girls' literature still, but as only a part-time member of the target audience, while like most of her readership over the years, I read Montgomery first as a child, returned to her growing up and am rediscovering her as I try to complete my collection now. So I can pose the questions that I did at the outset, but I'm in no place to answer them, and probably time will do so for me. After all, there must have been other writers that readers thought might join the canonical girls' library, as Montgomery joined Little Women and Daddy-Long-Legs and What Katy Did (my chronology is probably severely off and my selection quirky), but they didn't, or they didn't make it internationally. Thoughts?

Links, resources, the usual.

[Anne of Green Gables] was published in 1908 and became an instant success, selling more than 19,000 copies in 5 months.

Wikipedia claims 'It was written as fiction for readers of all ages, but in recent decades has been considered a children's book. '

Anne of Green Gables encyclopedia

Which heroine are you?
Which L.M. Montgomery Heroine are You?
Which L.M. Montgomery Heroine are You?

How Anne am I?
How Anne are You?
How Anne are You?

More LMM games here.

An L M Montgomery resource page

Discussion of The Blue Castle at a book reading comm and another on Anne and Diana's relationship.

[Meg Cabot] has more than 15 million copies of her books — children's, young adult, and adult — in print worldwide.

Meg Cabot interview that covers the difficulties of being a popular YA author (who is read by kids) and an adult writer, in terms of the crossover readership, sex in the books and her own language, and it touches on the issues of quality and quantity.
http://www.harf.lib.md.us/readers/archive_meet_the_author/jens_cabot_feb06.htm conducted by Jennifer Vido.

And here she writes in her blog about revision: http://www.megcabot.com/diary/?p=520
It was cruel irony that just as I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for my last set of revisions, a new set came in.

I realize this is entirely my own fault for writing so much, and I have only myself to blame. The only answer, obviously, is to stop writing so much.
And believe me, I’ve tried….

But every time I try to take a break, I get some new idea for a book or a series, and I’m like, “Dang, that would be so cool,” and I have to get out of the pool and start writing it.
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This is what happens when you don't do your googling before posting an overview of a subgenre. You have to do a follow-up post.

Here's an informative overview of the Sally Baxter series.

Article: Not Just for Children Anymore: Girls' Series Books
What many girls' juvenile series seem to have in common is that they posit the existence of a safe, orderly world, a world where right and wrong are clearly defined, and where right eventually triumphs. The protagonists face dilemmas, but few moral ambiguities. They are secure, fulfilled, and happy--and they never forget to be "feminine," to act like ladies, even when they are being their most adventurous and liberated.

More info on this subgenre at a comprehensive site - it has info on the Susan Sand mysteries (I have three of them). This is the related blog.

The Cherry Ames page.
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I'm not quite sure what to call the subgenre that Sally Baxter and her ilk belong to (grandmother: Cherry Ames), which is part career girl story, part mystery tale. They're nearly always published by World Distributors, so they have a similar 'look', especially if the dust jacket is intact. Other examples are Vicky Barr, Shirley Flight and Sara Gay. These series feature unmarried girls, but usually from traditional families, with jobs that take them all over the world (Cherry does almost every kind of nursing she can, Sally is a reporter, Vicky and Shirley flight attendants and Sara a model). They're part-time sleuths, as they come across mysteries wherever they go and because they feature in serial stories, they need to do well at their careers for a long time, even if their attention is sometimes divided.

The heroines of straight-up career girl stories, may feature a mystery subplot, but they are much more about depicting the demands of a job for their readers. 'Kate in Advertising' by Ann Barton, Joanna in Advertising by Stella Dawson, and Marjorie Riddell's 'A Model Beginning' and 'Press Story' are some examples from my bookshelves. Somewhat unrealistically, they usually end with the heroine getting engaged and the likely outcome is that she will give up her job for marriage and motherhood. So why do I call them career girl stories? Well, they still work as an intro to the career rather than being about the romance. And I may be over-generalising there. Not all end like that.

However, the serial stories subvert this, most interestingly in the Cherry Ames series, and they're somewhat anti-romantic. The heroines are shown as attractive and likeable, and with plenty of dates on call, but they never say yes to proposals. The audience for these stories is slightly older than 'A Crime for Caroline', obviously, although, again, who am I to talk, still reading them, many years after I came across my first Cherry Ames? And that doesn't even consider the influence of Nancy Drew, although sleuthing is her hobby-career (she doesn't need the money, but she does need the challenge). But in the days when the series started, why, going to college was what boys do! (It'll be interesting to see how the new movie handles this).

Sally Baxter, like Shirley and Sara (oh, they all start with S's) is a very English character. (As is nurse Jean, who has four books and two authors to tell her tale, but she isn't published by World distributors). The book which brought this on, Sally Baxter--Girl Reporter and the Holiday Family by Sylvia Edwards, starts off when Sally gets sent on a summer stunt to improve the circulation of her paper, the Evening Cry. The paper pays for a family already visiting a seaside resort (how very British) and voted for democratically to have their dream holiday. This upgraded holiday is then covered by Sally. Of course what she ends up reporting is a series of catastrophes for the first holiday family, who turn against her and go back home until she can uncover who is behind the ir misfortunes and why. (Let us just say that the story is really of its time and leave it there.)

ETA: Related links can be found here.


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