feather_ghyll: Illustration of the Chalet against a white background with blue border (Chalet School)
I haven't posted much about books so far this year, but I haven't read many books, or so it feels, but I tried to make up for it over the past weekend.

Gerry Goes to School: Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, Chambers, ‘latest reprint’ 1952.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Photograph of L M Montgomery at the seaside (L M Montgomery)
I feel I must preface this post as it’s about an American book that references women’s suffrage by saying that I read ‘Daddy Long-Legs’ at the end of October, but hadn’t been able to finish this review until now.

Daddy Long Legs: Jean Webster, Hodder & Stoughton

When I went to see the musical adaptation of this book (four years ago, EEK!), I realised that I couldn’t find my copy of ‘Daddy Long-Legs’ (a paperback edition, with an image of Judy in her gingham dress on the cover, possibly on a swing, I think). I still haven’t found it. So, when I came across a hardback copy, I decided to buy it. I have the original cast recording of the musical, so it’s been kept fresh in my mind, but I ought to be able to revisit the original easily.

It was good to return to the book and find that Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl looking across unusual terrain to a full moon (Speculative fiction)
The BFG (2016) (PG)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Adapted by: Melissa Mathison
From the book by: Roald Dahl
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Jemaine Clement, Penelope Wilton

This year is the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth, which has affected me less than I would have believed as a child when I devoured his books and loved them. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: One girl seated by an easel with a watching girl standing behind (Girl painter)
Jill Makes Good: Elizabeth Tugwell, Nelson

Of course, such a title begs you to decide whether the author has made good with this book.

Fourteen year old Jill Ross is headed for Cornwall at the start of the story, Read more... )
feather_ghyll: drawing of a girl from the 1920s reading a book in a bed/on a couch (Twenties girl reader)
I happened to read two books about two foundlings recently: Blue of the Sea by L. T. Meade and The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson. The former is an example of a potentially good story, failed by a lack of care and, to a modern day reader, rampant and unsustained snobbishness. The latter I can recommend if you want to curl up to a satisfying read.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Back of girl whose gloved hand is holding on to her hat. (Girl in a hat)
Daddy Long Legs St James’s Theatre, London

I spotted that there was a forthcoming musical adaptation of Jean Webster’s Daddy Long Legs in a newspaper, and, although it’s many years since I read the book – I suspect I’ve read Webster’s Just Patty more recently – I had to go. I keep meaning to see more theatrical productions (plays, musicals or dance) than I end up doing every year. So, that is what I was going to do a week yesterday. I had to pick up the ticket at the box office, so I couldn’t check it compulsively, only the diary in which I’d jotted down the time of the matinee. This time, I got there well in time.

Unfortunately, I got there hungry as a wolf. It was entirely my fault. I had just enough time – thought I – to wander around the vicinity, nose in map, and visit some charity shops and lunch. The reality was that I didn’t make any exciting finds, gawped at how much charity shops in Pimlico charge for clothes and failed to pop into a cafe or sandwich shop, even though I’d been hungry on leaving the coach. I only managed to get a croissant at the theatre, so I had a headache and a deep desire to kick myself as I took my seat. It’s to the production’s credit that my self-induced state didn’t mar my enjoyment one bit.

St James’s Theatre is, I understand, a new theatre built where an older theatre used to stand. I didn’t get much of a chance to take in the whole building, but the main auditorium is great. Three hundred and something seats – so they’re all good – descending down to the stage, allowing you to see and hear everything.

I’ll repeat that it’s many years since I read this book, and although I can visualise my copy, I have no idea where it is. I was curious about how they’d adapt what is an epistolary novel (and IIRC mainly written by one character). The answer is very cleverly.

This will contain spoilers for the musical and book, because I’m going to presume that you’ve read the book, and if you haven’t, you should have (if you’ve read Anne of Green Gables, What Katy Did and Little Women etc). And then you should go see this musical if you can.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: drawing of a girl from the 1920s reading a book in a bed/on a couch (Twenties girl reader)
Princess Anne: Katherine L. Oldmeadow. The Chirldren's Press (this edition published some time before Oct 1961, and wonderously, the previous owner's name was...Anne.

I finished reading this book this morning as I couldn't sleep, so that may influence what I type next.

I'm gradually rereading all my Oldmeadows and hoping I'll come across new-to-me copies of her books soon because of it. (Since reviewing Princess Charming, I reread Princess Prunella, and never got around to reviewing it.) Princess Anne never left that much of an impression on me, and I vaguely wondered if it was because I got Princess Charming and other books first. Having reread it, I think it's caused by more than that. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Jessica on Her Own: Mary K. Harris Faber Fanfares 1978

I reread this over the Christmas holidays (and I might as well be honest, I think I'm more likely to write about the Australian Open than I am to post more reviews of anything that I read over Christmas). I picked it up because the book was mixed in a pile of non children's books that I was sorting through as part of the slow process of removing more of my books from my parents'. I must have read it before, although I didn’t remember much about it.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Make Friends: Elsie J. Oxenham Nelsion Triumph Series

I bought this because it was by EJO, but by the end of the first chapter, I knew I’d read about the further adventures of Robin and the Abbey links to Plas Quellyn. Not that I can remember much about them, and I’ll have to hunt up my copy of Robins at the Abbey. Of course, it should be no surprise to me that it's linked, aren't all her books?

Read more... )

Edited for typos 3/5/10.
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Nicky of the Lower Fourth by Evelyn Smith (Blackie & Son.) is the first book by this authoress that I’ve ever read, but I’ll certainly keep an eye out for more from now on. Read more... )

Willingly to School: Mary Cathcart Borer Lutterworth Press 1976.

I have to admit to being underwhelmed. For one thing, surely it would have been more honest to subtitle it ‘A History of English Women’s Education’, Read more... )

Torley Grange: Gwendoline Courtney Girls Gone By Publishers, 2008.

The word that comes to me after having enjoyed reading this book on a train journey is ‘jolly’. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Over the holidays, I made the most of the opportunity to just sit down and read books from cover to cover. I started off with The Big Six by Arthur Ransome, which I really don't think I'd read before. Read more... )

I worked my way through The Woman in White - I believe I called every character a ninny at some junction.

I should have said the same thing about Family Playbill by Pamela Brown, Read more... )

I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which was recommended by [livejournal.com profile] callmemadam among others.

And then I read a Bessie Marchant, A Girl of the Northland, Read more... )

The latter was an interesting precursor to reading A Cousin from Canada by May Wynne, Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
The seed of this comes from my thinking that I've read somewhere that JK Rowling said that Noel Streatfeild was a favourite writer of hers. I don't know if it would have occured to me to see Ballet Shoes for Anna as an influence on the Harry Potter series otherwise. Probably.

Ballet Shoes for Anna: Noel Streatfeild. Collins Modern Classic 1998
Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Hello there! I know that my posting has turned from sporadic to non-existant over the past few months. It's been due to health issues (RSI, so you can see why I've been abstaining from computer use). I'm getting better, so the review that I said I'd post at the start of the year will get posted soonish, followed by other reviews. Or so I hope, but I'm not promising anything.

For now, it was a good week for girls' stories in Saturday's Guardian:

Dimsie and the Chalet Girls get a mention in Lucy Mangan's rant on what is being done to The Famous Five in Disney's 'The Next Generation' adaptation here. And there was a feature celebrating Anne of Green Gables's centenary by Margaret Attwood click here.
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
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.
feather_ghyll: Book shop store front, text reading 'wear the old coat, buy the new book.' (Book not coat)
I am currently using a library to access the internet, because I have what feels like a backlog of reviews - I've been reading a lot over August, enjoying the time that my holidays have afforded me to do so. Two days ago I shopped for more books (I was at a new town, so obviously I had to!). At a second-hand bookshop I'd wandered into the realm of the backroom, where the boxes lie in piles or full boxes. In some shops, this is the front room too.

So I picked up a book that had yet to be priced (Finding Minerva by Frances Thomas, which appealed because it's set in an alternate Britain, one in which the Romans never left). In the rare instances when this has happened to me before, the shopkeeper pulls a figure out of the air/their years of experience or say they aren't authorised to do that. This time, the bookseller opened up her laptop and checked the going rate at Amazon. I was amused, because this had never happened to me before and paid my £3. Well, I paid more than that, because I had got other books (including a May Wynne and a girls book that I think is older still).

What happened next isn't a first - sadly - and is a good example of Murphy's Law at work. It also wiped the grin off my face. I saw the same book - which I'd never seen before - was being sold at Oxfam for £1.99. I should, of course, have known better than to look at the price. Oh well, I got a bargain at Oxfam which sort of cancels it out (I can't be the only one whose brain works that way!?)

At about the same time, I was reading

Polly of Primrose Hill: Kathleen O'Farrell, Peal Press, no date, though it was written in Elizabeth II's reign.

Read more... )


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