feather_ghyll: Illustration of the Chalet against a white background with blue border (Chalet School)
Here are some links I have meant to post for a good long while:

The Chalet School at War review by Did You Ever Stop to Think

From the same blog, a thought-provoking analysis of the first page of ‘The School at the Chalet’.

Also, a review of Head Girl of the Chalet School

And her Chalet School tag

[dreamwidth.org profile] el_staplador sings the praises of 'Ballet Shoes’ (from a feminist standpoint) here.

I couldn't see who whad written about coming to Anne Shirley for the first time as an adult at Vulpes Libris.

A review of Miss Buncle’s Book by Carrie S, which I found charming. My first D.E. Stevenson book was 'Amberwell', which I probably was too young for. I liked the idea of children growing up in a stately family home, but was quite upset that their lives turned out to be sad and full of strife. I find Stevenson variable in quality, but 'Miss Buncle’s Book' is one of my favourite books of hers,

The author of the recently reviewed Tam Lin can be found on Livejournal/Dreamwidth [livejournal.com profile] pameladean/[dreamwidth.org profile] pameladean.

Finally, and this is relatively breaking news, the BBC is adapting 'Little Women'.
feather_ghyll: Photograph of L M Montgomery at the seaside (L M Montgomery)
Jane of Lantern Hill: L.M. Montgomery. Virago Modern Classics 2014

What a treat it was to read a new-to-me L.M. Montgomery book (and one that doesn’t disappoint as ‘Mistress Pat’ did). Of course, most of the Anne books are old, old friends and this has the touch of a fairy story, so you know there’ll be a happy ending, all of which led to a certain familiarity. However, I forgot quite how Montgomery’s phrasings transmit the characters’ rapture, and how can you not love words like ‘morningish’ and ‘foretokens’?

Victoria Jane Stuart is Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Book shop store front, text reading 'wear the old coat, buy the new book.' (Book not coat)
I hope to write about a couple of books that I read over last weekend soonish, but for now, here’s a meme via slemslempike. Abridged – I skipped a lot of questions.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Photograph of L M Montgomery at the seaside (L M Montgomery)
Rainbow Valley: L.M. Montgomery Harrap 1956

A few years ago, I bought Rilla of Ingleside in the mistaken, belief that I was completing my collection of Anne books. (I see that I didn't review it). Of course, I eventually realised that I didn’t own this but came across this hardback in my travels, although the illustration on the dustjacket gives away the ending, rather and is misleading in a way.

For, to my surprise, Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
I've just finished reading this book, so this may not be that considered a review. I began it last night, stopped for a good night' sleep and completed it over breakfast.

Up a Road Slowly: Irene Hunt

I remember that I found out about this Newberry Award winner online, but not precisely where or in what context it was recommended. I'd certainly recommend it, it's a coming of age story, slightly in the vein of L.M. Montgomery, with good writing to savour. Read more... )
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.
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.


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