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... )
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Angela Has Wings: Peter Ling and Sheilah Ward, A Girl novel, Longacre Press, 1960.

I had to look up to see whether Angela Wells was Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
The Honeymoon Hotel: Hester Browne. Quercus. 2014.

I found this more successful than a lot of books in this vein, because the characterisation actually works, here. Usually the heroine becomes insuuportably stupid for the plot and romantic tension’s sake. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: (1950s green outfit)
Elizabeth, Young Policewoman: Valerie Baxter. The Bodley Head Third Impression 1963

These career novels are fascinating bits of social history. Written at a particular time, when it was admitted that several young women needed to work for a living and even wanted to – even admitting that some would like a career other than being a wife and mother, but not yet at the point where a woman was allowed to have both, these books appeared as a taster for the girls about to decide what to do with their futures. Their purpose was to give a general idea of what various jobs were like, with a heroine who would be attractive to the reader, the type who would be competent at her job (as opposed to World Distributor where the career girl’s sleuthing drove the story.)

Elizabeth’s story was quite an absorbing read. Read more... )
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Guitar Girl: Sarra Manning. Speak 2003

Any book that makes me hum Kenickie's 'I Will Fix You' for days afterwards, as this did by referring to the band among other female-driven bands and artists in the dedication, is a good'un. After reading this, I’ll certainly keep an eye out for more of Manning’s books - I'd seen her rated on book blogs.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: (1950s green outfit)
Rachel Tandy: Mabel Esther Allan. Hutchinson 1958

This is a rather charming book that I enjoyed reading – it did have echoes of other Allan books, of which I’ve read many. Read more... )
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A Popular Schoolgirl: Angela Brazil

I had an ‘oh, Angela’ moment when Read more... )

Sara Gay Model Girl in New York: Janey Scott

That's New York, 1961 - fit for girls. Read more... )

Dance with me by Victoria Clayton

Recommended. Read more... )

I look forward to reading more by Clayton (I think another book of hers may have been recommended by [personal profile] callmemadam.)

Finally I reread Three go to Switzerland: Mabel Esther Allan

It can’t have made much impact on me before, because I didn’t remember anything as I read it. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: (1950s green outfit)
I have a tag labelled: genre: career story. It’s a genre that fascinates me, covering at least two subgenres, which I talk about here, although, in the post, I’m concentrating on Girl’s Name, Job Title in Exotic Sounding Adventure serial mysteries and not the ‘straight up career girl stories’ as I describe books like the one I’m about to review. Actually, I’m not sure that that’s the best name for the subgenre.

Kate in Advertising : Ann Barton. The Bodley Head, 1961.

This is a standalone book (as far as I know) about how a girl progresses in her job, although as I hope to show, calling it a career story isn’t precisely right. However, Kate Wilson, Copywriter certainly girl has no time to be a Part-Time Sleuth!

By the by, I wonder whether career stories for boys have ever been a feature – I tend to gloss over most boys' own books at best and get annoyed when there’s a heap of them and no female counterparts on the bookshelves or bookheaps of second hand book shop, so I wouldn’t know. I suspect there might be of the Part-Time Sleuth variety.

This second impression in 1961 of a fifties story for girls is typical of its subgenre, good enough at doing what it sets out to do, except it’s already out of date, as the author’s note apologetically makes clear, thanks to the growing influence of television. In the book, TV sets were still exotic and print spearheaded any advertising campaign.

Read more... )
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Class: Jane Beaton Sphere 2008

I came across this book in a charity shop. It’s a chick-litty, modern day take on the boarding school genre, written for girls who wanted to go to Mallory Towers, whether that was a few years ago or, as in my case, quite a few years ago.

Read more... )
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This is the last of the reviews of books that I read over my Easter holidays:

The Secret of Magnolia Manor: Helen Wells Grosset & Dunlap 1949.

This is part of the Vicki Barr Flight Stewardess Series – one of those career girl mystery story series that the Cherry Ames books epitomise. Vicki is ‘just out’ of her teens, loves her job, but is very pretty and attractive, makes friends wherever she goes, including male ones who pay her compliments and provide transport or back up as she solves cases, but aren’t to be taken too seriously. Being a flight stewardess means that she travels a lot (as does her later and fabulously named British equivalent Shirley Flight).

In this story, Vicki’s given the route from New Orleans, via Merida, to Guatemala City. She’s thrilled to get a chance to visit ‘Crescent City’, and we get a colourful, travel-booky feel for it, with Vicki staying at a Creole pension (the secret of the title is linked to her ‘host’ family) and meeting barefooted Cajuns, eating square-shaped donuts and visiting the bayou. (The other end of her route doesn’t get a look in.)

Magnolia Mansion used to belong to the Breaux family, but was recently sold. News of the new owner’s planned alterations make Monsieur Paul Breaux, Vicki's host, act extremely strangely. Vicki was already dubious about him for treating his niece Marie as if they were living in the eighteenth century – she may be about to turn eighteen and get engaged (to practically the first man she’s met, but he’s a nice man) but she has to ask permission to do anything and is treated in a somewhat Cinderellaish fashion. Vicki eventually deduces why, but in the meantime, a man goes missing, everyone takes a while to figure that out (and nobody except Marie seems particularly worried, and her concerns are easily calmed) or to do anything about clues that are screaming for attention. There is a fancy dress party for Vicki to attend first of all, you see. Anyhow, she manages to get her act together before no more than a couple of concussions are doled out (none to her) and all is well. Vicki even gets to rejoin her family in corn field country for a break afterwards.

I generally like the detail about nursing in Helen Wells’ Cherry Ames book, although that is usually subsumed in the mystery. Vicki isn’t quite such a memorable character, feeling like more of a representative of ‘the modern girl’ than her own person (especially in this book where she's contrasted with Marie Breaux).
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Cherry Ames at Spencer

Some other time, I will do the research and write something more considered about Cherry Ames - both girl detective and career girl and surely the poster girl for the hybrid-type series, usually published by World Distributors. She takes on a different nursing job in each book, which seems to involve a child-appropriate mystery and good-looking young doctors who would sure like to know rosy-cheeked Cherry better. Unlike the heroines of other nursing books, she must always disappoint them, because she always loves Dr Joe* the most.

Cherry Ames at Spencer by Julie Tatham. World Distibutors 1958

The book certainly hits all the things I expected to see. Read more... )
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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... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
Ballet Shoes (BBC One, Boxing Day 2007)

Adaptations both are and are not, risky prospects. Television companies and film studios make them because they believe that they're safe prospects, being familiar properties and so attracting an interested audience. Adapting a book also offers a touch of class to a TV or film production, more often than not. With 'Ballet Shoes', you have a widely acclaimed classic with nostalgic connotations from the viewers' childhood, and for the period in which the book is set. And yet, like I said, it's a risky proposition. The screenwriter has to translate the material to a different medium, for a different age, while they (and of course everyone else involved in the production) are putting their own stamp on readers' long-held personal view(s) of the book. Maybe influenced by their own long-held view, maybe not.
Read more... )

My thoughts on the book can be found here.
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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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