feather_ghyll: Boat with white sail on water (Sailboat adventure)
My Cousin Rachel
This adaptation of Du Maurier’s book, which I haven’t read, revolves around Read more... )

Adventure on Rainbow Island by Dorothy Clewes
I enjoyed this well enough, considering it was narrated by a sixteen year old chauvinist Read more... )

I've also recently reread The Ambermere Treasure by Malcolm Saville, featuring the Jillies and Standings. I’d bought a second copy by accident, although I can see why I didn’t really remember it. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
The Encircled Heart: Josephine Elder, Girls Gone By, 2012 reprint. (First published 1951)

Two words from the same root came to mind as I started reading this book: absorbed and absorbing. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Close-up of white flower aganst dark background (Black and white flower)
While We Still Live: Helen MacInnes, Titan, January 2013

In a way, the setting of this book is timely – I don’t think I’d read about Poland’s experiences during the end of 1939 before and they are salutary. Read more... )
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The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy: Judith L. Pearson. The Lyons Press, 2005.

This is the biography of Virginia Hall, an-American-born spy who worked for the British and later the Americans as an intelligence officer in France during World War 2. Her story is remarkable and Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
Envoy on Excursion: Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon
Michael Joseph (this edition 1954)

Detective-Inspector Adam Quill of Scotland Yard, who has previously had to deal with the insanities of the Ballet Stroganov has a new case. It is wartime, Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Illustration of the Chalet against a white background with blue border (Chalet School)
The Chalet School and the Lintons: Elinor M. Brent-Dyer Chambers 1940 reprint

I’d previously read this story as split into two by Armada. It was nice to have it all in one hardback volume, although I managed to slosh some coffee over it at one point.

The story is that Gillian and Joyce LintonRead more... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white photograph of early C20 girl with plait reading (Girl with a plait reading)
The Redheaded Patrol: Mrs A.C. Osborn Hann The Girl’s Own Paper (published before 31 July 1938)

I don’t do this often, but I’ll quote the opening and closing lines of this book:

It really was a most extraordinary coincidence. All the girls in the Scarlet Pimpernel Patrol had red hair! And nobody could manage them! Leader after leader had tried and given it up in despair! (p.9)

Now, whether my readers wish to hear any more of Judy and Gladys, and the other members of the Redheaded Patrol, depends entirely on the reception given to this book. (p. 176)

On the first, that’s three exclamation marks and on the second, that’s shilling for a sequel. (This reminds me that the next Oldmeadow that I intend to read is The Pimpernel Patrol.)

One of the greatest strengths of this book, Read more... )
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How the Girl Guides Won the War: Janie Hampton Harper Press 2010
Read over July and August 2011

The war in question is the second world war, and while the book itself doesn’t really bear out the claim of the title, it does show the extremely important role that Guiding played during that period in Great Britain, the Channel Islands, Continental resistance movements, internment camps on the other side of the world and afterwards. It’s woven together from all kinds of sources – the most gripping are usually the words of the girls and women themselves, either recorded at the time or speaking with hindsight. Read more... )
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Before posting this, I feel I should mention that I overwrote the review I drafted immediately after finishing this book. Said draft has achieved mythic status in my mind. I'm sure I expressed myself wonderfully in it. What I have to offer here is what I scrambled up from memory.

Well Done, Denehurst!: Gwendoline Courtney. Girls Gone By publishers. 2005

But Avice did not answer. She was staring in perplexity at her captor. Then suddenly recognition showed in her eyes.

"You!" she gasped. "So it's you!"

Read more... )
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I hope everyone had a happy Easter! I had a chance to catch up on some reading and quite a few were Girls Ownish-type books, so I have a backlog of reviews to post. First, a tale of an intra-school feud, spy hunting, a dash of hockey and alarm clocks under pillows.

The Denehurst Secret Service: Gwendoline Courtney Girls Gone By 2005.

Read more... )
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I mentioned this book when I was reviewing The School on the Moor, which is about Tabitha (Toby)'s earlier adventures. I had forgotten I'd owned it and couldn't find it anywhere. Well, recently, I found the copy - it had slipped under a bookcase, essentially, and was hidden by boxes - and decided to reread it. I think I'm still missing a book or two in this series, though.

Toby at Tibbs Cross: Dorita Fairlie Bruce. Oxford 1944

This could have been titled 'Toby's War Work'; Read more... )

Over the weekend, I also reread Princess Charming, so I'll post my thoughts about that soon.
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
I just watched the hour-long documentary 100 Years of the Girl Guides, which aired on BBC4 on Sunday on iPlayer, where it can still be watched by residents of the UK until Sunday night. Past experience suggests that it will be repeated on BBC2 at some point.

I was never a Brownie, Guide or Ranger, but read about them from enthusiastic proponents like Mrs Osborn-Hann, Ethel Talbot and Catherine Christian (or is it Christine Chaundler? perhaps both). The programme, a mixture of history with talking heads: former Brownies or Guides all, but some being celebrities or notables talking about their experienc/view of what they learned or women talking about certain experiences that they'd been through. It made me tear up, to be honest, Read more... ) Anyway, if you were/are one of the huge numbers who were/are involved in the Guiding movement, or just a reader like me, I'm sure you'd find it fascinating. There was no mention of guiding books, although they used clips of Guides' footage.
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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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Over the summer, I've found myself reading a lot of books that are concerned with the employment of women, in the loosest sense of the phrase, maybe 'occupation' is closer to it, and some of them were girls rather than women...

Sue Barton - Staff Nurse: Helen Dore Boylston
Requiem for a Wren: Neville Shute
Miss Buncle Married: D. E. Stevenson
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: Winifred Watson
The Third Miss Symons: F.M. Mayor
North for Treasure: Dorothy Carter
Read more... )
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I have been feeling a bit abashed recently. I only think of myself as a book collector on sporadic occasions, such as when I see the fruits of my collecting in piles, or on shelves, or in piles by shelves. It would be more correct to call me a reader, I collect books for the stories they contain. I was made more aware of this in London the other day when I tramped into really, really posh book shops with books I didn't dare even touch on their shelves, the first edition dust jackets protected by reverent plastic. I have no idea what the asking prices were, but I knew I couldn't afford them, as I have plans to travel, eat and drink over the summer. And I remain haunted by a couple of prices from my Hay trip last year.

But I suppose now is the time to make the admission that I write my name inside books. I'm also more likely to eat when reading a hardback than a paperback, because it's easier, which means that a book from 1913 is more likely to get stained or dirtied than a paperback that isn't even in double digits. I've moved on from the phase I had where I had to underline the name of every proper Chalet School girl who appeared in the series (don't have a heart attack, we are talking about the Armada paperbacks, which I suppose I should replace for the proper versions someday).

I like reading the names, dates and occasional messages when the book was a gift on the flyleaf. I love the random bookmarks you can find in books too. They all give me the sense of the history of 'my book', and a feeling that the book was loved before being handed on to me. That sort of attitude probably wouldn't do at those shops.

And then, last weekend I read 'You're A Brick, Angela', because it was about time. It's a very informative book, and one has to remember that it was an overview of a much neglected field. so it covers a lot of ground. But I did feel rather contrary regarding some of its assumptions, and wished the authors had gone into further depth into the power of series and a strong contingent of readers wanting more of the same, although I suppose it's unfair to expect everyone to share that particular preoccupation, but I do think it would have been fruitful to raise that aspect when comparing with writers of several non-serial books and books that didn't get a sequel and their popularity and influence.

Anyway, why did this book make me feel abashed? Because apparently I'm no critical reader. (In fairness, I kept reminding myself that I'd been introduced to Blyton very young and Pamela Brown, Lorna Hill and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer when I was at the latter end of primary school. So there. I was also critical reader enough to prefer the Famous Five to the Secret Seven.) And now, as an adult, when I should know better? I like the escapism of light reading and the certainties of genre, the nostalgia for my childhood and the one that never existed in these books.

Having said that, I found I did have a critical reader, actually when I read Angela Brazil's The New School at Scawdale Read more... )

Whether I am a critical reader or not, it's true to say that last weekend I went away with three books, which I read, and returned with another shopping-bags full.
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
I'm posting this so that I have a clean slate for the next book that I want to review. Here’s what I’ve been doing lately that might be of interest…

The Youngest Sister is typical Bessie Marchant, a girl’s coming of age in an exotic local with a smidge of romance and an attempt at Romance in the old-fashioned sense. Although her heroine criss-crosses across the vastness of Canada, you’d think that only half a dozen people lived there because she keeps coming across the same folks. There’s some mildly interesting character stuff about the eponymous heroine’s attempt to make up for a life where she let her (apparently) more capable sisters do everything for her, but BM feels the need to have peril or disaster strike in EVERY. SINGLE. CHAPTER. Which gets tiresome.

I have forgotten everything I ever learned about Canada and flying in the 50s or 60s, which is a shame because teaching me that stuff was the sole point of Shirley Flight, Air Hostess in Canadian Capers. Spectre Jungle by Violet Methley featured a bunch of really hard-to-like snots, racing against an American adversary in Borneo to find a mysterious simian - the spectre of the title.

More PC was Tangara by Nan Chauncy, which didn’t quite pull off its rather familiar trick of having a twentieth-century girl be able to slip through time and relive the experiences of another white girl, who befriended a Tasmanian Aboriginal girl, just before her people were massacred. Speaking of history, The Wind Blows Free teaches us what use can be made of cow pats (it’s a bit Little House on The Prairie).

I’ve also been reading The Crackerjack Girls’ Own. I don’t normally like these annuals – I like longer stories, where narrative covers up perfunctory writing, but it was cheap and featured a story by Anne Bradley. It turned out to be a pleasant enough collection to read before going to sleep – which isn’t how I normally read books, I’m far too likely to end up reading until the wee hours otherwise.

I read Mistress Pat, the sequel to Pat of Silver Bush. Poor Jingle. Montgomery had to do something REALLY, REALLY DRASTIC to get Pat out of her stubborn rut. I think one of the problems with these two books is weird choices in terms of the passing of time. (They’re also overshadowed by better things she’s done – the Annes, Emilys and Blue Castle.)

Angela Brazil’s Schoolgirl Kitty features an arty family that loses a mother and goes to France. This gives AB a chance to lecture on Art, and provide some ‘exotic’ drama (this being quite a few decades before Spectre Jungle and Shirley Flight).

I read four Miss Silver mysteries in quick succession; I have a fifth to read but I’m a little tired of the formula, so I’m putting it off. It’s always like that with the Miss Silver books, either feast or famine in terms of seeing them on the shelves of shops.

Blue for a Girl was a (somewhat scattershot) account of the Wrens’ history in world war 2. While writing about the Admiralty et al’s sexism, the male writer displays his own chauvinism. I felt that the book was written for people in the inner circle too. I’d have preferred it if it had been more rigorous chronologically, instead of having chapters based on theme, with the writer changing direction unexpectedly every few paragraphs.

Cinemawise, I watched The Spiderwick Chronicles, which was based on a book that was influenced by other fantasy books. A modern family, flirting with dysfunction, meets old-fashioned (but well-rendered) faerie folk – although the troll was rubbish. There were problems of scale. I hardly ever believed that the whole wide world as the kids knew it was in danger, and I couldn’t but compare it unfavourably with The Neverending Story

Nim’s Island could have been based on a book – I don’t think it was – with its theme of a storyteller lying within us all and it being a lonely person’s way of reaching out. It wasn’t a very good film though.
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I've read several children's books over the past few weeks, but I'm not in a position to type up full reviews at present, so here are some one-sentence responses. The Potato Riddle by Agnes and Norman Furlong was a boys' story, a change for me, and definitely operating by a different set of rules to the one I'm used to, which may have been a factor in how entertaining I found it i.e. novelty. Pamela at Peters' by Edna Lake flubs its central mystery horribly, ignoring the gun in the first act rule, but is otherwise a tight story with a new girl and a secret society fighting for a school's honour. Dimsie, Head Girl by DFB is the real deal though. Yes, the title makes the first half mildly irritating as you wait for the story to catch up and for Dimsie to step into the biggest shoes a schoolgirl heroine can, all to save the Jane Willard Foundation from drift - actually, there's a thematic sympathy between those last two books.

Then I read Plough Penny Mystery by Lavinia L. Davis, which features younger characters over a summer, and offers a genuinely perceptive character study in the shadow of the second world war. Catrin in Wales by Mabel Esther Allen is what you'd expect from MAE, first person narrative, coming of age story with romance amidst friendships, good on local detail - although there was something in there about a play about a Welsh valley being drowned performed in Liverpool that the sixties (Tryweryn) rendered a howler.

Finally, there was something in the news a few days ago about land girls and lumberjills (a term I'd never come across before) finally getting recognised for their war work by the UK Government. How? Badges. How very Blue Peter. (I'm not sure how tongue in cheek I feel about this).
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
This review may be even more rambling than normal. For one thing, I want to go watch the tennis match that is playing on my TV set. And for another, I am still freaked out by Googling the book title and author name and this morning's entry coming up.

Lorna on the Land by Doris Pocock, Ward Lock, 1946.

Read more... )


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