feather_ghyll: Close-up of white flower aganst dark background (Black and white flower)
Collected over months (or longer):

A tribute to Elinor M. Brent-Dyer by nobodyjones

The thrill of the used bookstore hunt

Amanda Diehl talks about book hunting practices involving second-hand bookshops that I can partially sympathise with. I do have strange habits about books, but let’s focus on the euphoria of finding something you’ve long looked for at a reasonable price.

Daniel Dalton recommends 33 Books You Should Read Now, Based On Your Favourite Films. Having read and seen some pairs, I can see where he’s coming from and have found a cuple of recommondations.

There are a few Nancy Drew icons here by misbegotten.

Angela Brazil: dorm feasts and red hot pashes

Kathryn Hughes has been rereading Angela Brazil (spoilers for A Patriotic Schoolgirl).

Here’s a new blog about children’s books that I think will be worth keeping an eye on: homeintimefortea


May. 18th, 2014 08:28 am
feather_ghyll: Close-up of white flower aganst dark background (Black and white flower)
Both from The Guardian:

Where are all the heroines in YA fiction?: firebird

This feature wanders away, somewhat, from the original question, to discuss covers and marketing, but ends with some recommendations.

Here is an obituary for Mary Stewart, who has passed away at the age of 97, by Rachel Hore. I found it sympathetic and enlightening about certain aspects of Stewart's books. I greatly enjoyed her romantic suspense novels.


Mar. 9th, 2014 03:32 pm
feather_ghyll: Illustration of the Chalet against a white background with blue border (Chalet School)
Carolynp mounts a well-argued defence of the Chalet School's Mary-Lou (I have to admit that my initial response was ‘Huh?’ at Mary-Lou needing to be defended)

Here's a blog post about slang and its use to include and exclude.

The other day, I experienced something that has never happened to me before when buying a book - I watched bemused as the shopkeeper wrapped it up in brown paper, stuck some tape to keep it together but then cut off a piece of string and tied it up with a bow. It was one of Maria's favourite things. It was at a shop that sold 'vintage' goods and was partly a tea shop - too knick knacky to be an antiques shop, and with all sorts of objects lying in front of the mainly hardback books that were for sale in a bookshelf. The book in question was in quite good nick, so I suppose it's what they do with everything they sell.
feather_ghyll: Back of girl whose gloved hand is holding on to her hat. (Girl in a hat)
Some biographical information on Katherine L. Oldmeadow and a review of Princess Prunella here, which I first read when I was young enough that going to France did seem like a remarkable event to me.

Lyzzybee has written an enthusiastic review of Eva Ibbotson's Journey to the River Sea that doesn’t give too much of the plot away but gives a good idea of what to expect and why you should read it (if you haven’t).

Mystery subgenres explained in the Washington Independent Review of Books.
feather_ghyll: drawing of a girl from the 1920s reading a book in a bed/on a couch (Twenties girl reader)
Rereading Sylvia's Secret

Sylvia's Secret A Tale of the West Indies: Bessie Marchant (Blackie)

I know I've read this book before, but I didn't remember anything about it, however everything seemed oh so familiar, because it is a generic Bessie Marchant adventure story, like the last one that I read, but didn't write about (The Unknown Island) on an exotic island, with a strand of racism that made me cringe. Halfway through, I went searching and found this article from the Dictionary of Literary Biography on Bessie Marchant. It contains some biographical details and an overview of her (numerous) books, using a few as examples.

These quotes stayed with me and influenced the rest of the reread:

Women are weak, yet capable, in these novels, and in that paradox contemporary readers can see something of the flux that women's roles were in during the first part of the twentieth century.


Marchant's readers could not have taken her novels seriously. They are at best escapist melodramas, filled with outrageous coincidences, offering the young women who read them safe, uplifting adventures that seemed exotic but which were, in actuality, not at all far from home.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
Ths isn't the review that I said was coming (but then today was meant to be a book-buying day and that didn't happen either). Friday before last I read Anne Billson's feature on 'An Education', An Education that is very British, and the depiction of (British) school life or lack therefor on the big screen. I then saw 'An Education' (recommended, even if it sometimes falls on the side of being funny and charming rather than profound, the acting is very good, and the heroine's school life is a thread) and before it a trailer for Cracks, which is mentioned in the feature. I'm not sure entirely whether elements that were hinted at in the trailer will come through in the film. It looked like one I'd want to see, although everyone's hair was awfully messy!

Anyway, in her feature, Billson asks But why did no one ever film Malory Towers, or The Chalet School?. She discusses part of the reason in the feature, I think, St. Trinian's, which in part parodied the girl's school story. A strong, parodic or absured iconography like that made a 'straight' rendition difficult. In addition, the examples she offers are series, which before the Harry Potter and Twilight phenomena would probably put film-makers off (but why no television series?) Perhaps not so much these days? I don't know. It would be fun to see an all-girls school story with the rivalries, the midnight feasts, the prefects nd mistresses and the daring rescue from a fire or unexpected tide!
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
A collection of links, some of them related to recent posts and things of interest, some that I came across quite some time ago.

Swallows and Amazons memorobilia here!

A critical review of Diana Wynne Jones's The Game (in lieu of my thoughts which I never did write up) by a DWJ fan.

Author Hilary Mantel talks about looking for female role models in 19th century novels
with specific reference to Jo March, Katy Carr and Jane Eyre, discussiong her childish reaction to them, and some other aspects, such as the picture of contemporary London and interaction with real personages in What Katy Did Next.

A nice description of 'Remembering my best find'. I don't hink I can remember a best find so clearly, but I do know from experience that it's always worth trying even the least promising shop.

A review of the production of Daisy Pulls it Off that I saw.

Greyladies a new publishing venture that's just registered on me radar - Girls Gone By's older sister? - that I'm definitely interested in.

Wikipedia's potted history of Josephine Elder.

ETA: I nearly forgot, Happy Easter!
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
I've referred to Lucy Mangan's series of features on how to build up 'a brilliant children's library' before. Here in No. 15, she reaches Dimsie goes to School and Angela Brazils. Apparently the only difference between Fairlie Bruce and Angela Brazil is that one wrote her books a little earlier, which is unfair. Though I do appreciate that this is a short piece and she's talking about Dimsie as a representative of a genre.

But no, I cn't help but be pedantic, Fairlie Bruce wrote about Scotland as well as England, and Jean is a rubbish example of stoicism. I type as one who has four Dimsies waiting to be read upstairs. There's also a reference to 'You're A Brick, Angela' in the article, which apparatently was 'the first substantial book of criticism-cum-championing of girls' school stories'. This leads to the inevitable thought that if that's championing, who needs undermining. (I discuss that book and line of thought here.

Mangan's argument for these books is mainly nostalgic, though she makes an interesting point about how these books are no longer being passed on. Is this true? The Chalet School, Mallory Towers, St Clare's and Trebizons were easily available in paperback as I grew up, and I found others from my mother and her friends', a haphazard collection, and became a haunter of charity shops and Christmas fairs, but I was a real bookworm. But what about young girls these days? Do they get their hands on copies to beguile, entertain and confuse them?
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
First of all, I've been revisiting my review of the Nancy Drew film, which should teach me not to comment on things I haven't read/seen, because I liked it despite my misgivings when I heard of the project, but when you have a gut reaction to a childhood friend being brought 'up to date'... Here's a link I came across on the rebranded (ugh) Famous Five: The Next Generation (ugh) that articulates some of said gut reaction. My Son is Disgusted. from The Age of Uncertainty.

I think I've mentioned or linked to stuff that's mentioned this rebranding of the Famous Five before (see the tags). I probably shouldn't comment, because I had a clear-out of most of my Blytons many years ago (I may even have got rid of the school stories). But the Famous Five were always my favourite over The Secret Seven, and I remember liking the one where Anne got a spine, and disliking the later series that was written by someone else and translated into the English. But this latest new version? Sounds a bit rum to me.

I've also reread

Veronica in Venice: Jill Stevens, Nelson 1964

It was one of the books that I rediscovered a while ago, and I decided to pick it up and reread it, because I honestly didn't remember it, despite being set in Venice. That was probably not a good sign. 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: Book shop store front, text reading 'wear the old coat, buy the new book.' (Book not coat)
French page dedicated to Eric Leyland. It states that Leyland was a friend of Captain W. Johns - author of the Biggles books - and also wrote under the pseudonym of Elizabeth Tarrant (I didn't know this, I have one of 'her' books!). There's a full looking bibiliography - though they warn that it isn't necessarily complete, due to the numerous pseuds that he used - with pictures of covers. This suggests that there is a series of Stanton's books (I wonder if they are about Statnon's in its incarnation before 'Stanton's comes of Age' or after?
would suggest that it's after.)

Details on the casting for the new Ballet Shoes adaptation. My reaction. ) Also, I really need to reread the book.

The Fossil Cupboard - a message board to discuss Streatfeild's books.

And for Ransome fans, on lj, there's [livejournal.com profile] ransomefans. (I saw a Swallows and Amazons mug of the classic cover, which I had a bit of a struggle over, but couldn't justify buying it right now, 15 % opening weekend discount or no. This was at the new Borders.

P'raps I can engineer a mug-related accident...

Wikipedia offers this list of fictional works invented by EBD (it hurts me a little that they are not chronologically ordered).

[livejournal.com profile] astralis on new girls, honour and girls who don't fit in in girls school stories.

News of two Famous Five productions. Am I the only one who sees the major flaw in looking at the characters' lives decades later? Read more... ). Fan Lucy Mangan weighs in on the subject.

The Series Fic yahoo group - dedicated to exploring British children's series fiction of the 20th and 21st century.
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
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.
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
Noel Streatfeild news and resources:

Ballet Shoes to be made into a feature length drama to air on BBC One later this year - read the press release. I got the heads up from Digital Spy. This could be great, the BBC, after all, should be able to handle this sort of material in its sleep, but it rather depends on who they cast to play the Fossils and what the director gets out of them.

h2g2 has an overview of the 'Shoes' "series" (which was artificially created as such, though some of them are obviously connected, says the person who never could read 'The Bell Family', in fact I'm not sure if I didn't give up and give it away.)

For more, there's this well-presented Noel Streatfeild site: http://www.whitegauntlet.com.au/noelstreatfeild/

Discussion - girls in fiction and the women writing it

Girl wonders
As Nancy Drew returns to the screen, Laura Barton remembers the fictional female heroes who bested the boys, bucked convention and shaped her childhood

Were you an Ann or a George? (Plus, it may be made more explicit in later books, because, yes, I am of the Nancy Drew Files/strawberry blonde generation, but is Ned Nickerson not 'the love interest' and sidekick to Nancy? Sadly, there's no mention of the Swallows and Amazons girls in this article.)

Editorial anonymous, a children's book editor, discusses the question of whether children's books are a girls' club and if so why? This mainly refers to modern children's literature.

I recommend
Essay/Discussion: Twins, part two
by [livejournal.com profile] sangerin, which focuses on the twins of the Abbey Girls and Chalet School series.

Malcolm Saville resources:

The Malcolm Saville centenary website, through which I discovered 'Three Towers in Tuscany' is the first of a sequel, which ends with 'Marston Baines - Master Spy'. My delight at the fact that there are more books and that one of them has such a title cannot be textually rendered.


feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Rereading 'Secret Water' the other week was a real treat. Read more... )

I must have read 'Swallows and Amazons', the first book in the series, first, but I probably read them out of order, getting them out of the library and rereading them, and I'm not sure if I ever read them all. Although there was a time when I'd have said the Anne series was my favourite series, and I've been reading new-to-me Montgomery's over the last year, I'm basking in a lot of Ransome love at the moment. Looking back, it occurs to me that I liked 'mixed' series when I was at primary school: the Famous Five, the Lone Piners and Swallows and Amazons, and more girl-centric series the older I got: the Chalet girls, the Annes and the Abbey girls. That isn't to say that it was so clear-cut, I mean, I read Mallory Towers along with the Famous Five and was into the Scarlet Pimpernel in the lower part of secondary school, and I probably started buying my own copies of the Swallows and Amazons books about that time, too, thanks to more pocket money. Due to the availability of library copies if I wanted them (and yes, they were hardbacks with the nifty dust-jackets covered in a plastic binding) and my familiarity with the stories, I didn't hunt down copies of my own. Though if they came my way cheaply, i'd buy them. As a result, I've probably read the most land-bound book, 'Pigeon Post', the most. I had half resolved that this year I'd try to complete my collection of Chalet School books (which is mainly Armada paperbacks - I try not to think about the abridging that has gone on in them too hard), but right now I'm more enthused about getting a complete set of the Swallows and Amazons series.

Reading 'Secret Water' set me off to hunt the interwebs for resources. I may have been looking in the wrong places (livejournal and Google mainly) but there doesn't seem to be much around. I wanted something on the chronology of the books, essays on the characters and their roles, with an eye to gender, and on the themes of the books. The story needs all of them, from instigator Nancy, future naval commander John, the excellent Susan (who I really appreciated in 'SW'), dreamer and mapmaker Titty, to the others. There seems to be some stuff out there about Ransome-the-author, but not as much discussion of the text, just lots of short comments that can be summarised as 'Swallows and AMazons, oh yes, I loved them. Wasn't Nancy great? They're pure escapism'. Surely there's more to say than that!

Here's what I did find:

Swallows and Bolsheviks from [livejournal.com profile] oursin

This knocked my socks off:
Secret waters: Reliving author Arthur Ransome's literary journey along the Essex coast by Graham Hoyland

When my father was the age of an Amazon, one of his teachers was the poet W H Auden, who later called the 1930s "a low, dishonest decade". To adults, perhaps, it was, but to Ransome's fictional children it seems an age of innocence. What parent would now leave their young children (including a six-year-old, Bridget) to camp on an island unsupervised?
[A part of me is outraged on behalf of the excellent Susan Walker.)

Resources: Arthur Ransome/S and A background books [I'd probably need to see reviews before getting them.]

Icons based on cover art by [livejournal.com profile] keswindhover

Any other links would be very much welcomed.


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