feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
A book-related post!

It’s perhaps unfair to compare these two children’s books about two civil wars, but I read them quite close to each other, so the comparison came readily. Irene Hunt wrote ‘Across Five Aprils’ about the American civil war, as experienced by one Jethro Creighton, while Dorothea Moore (whom I've never posted about here before although I have copies of her books) wrote ‘Perdita, Prisoner of War’ - yes, I admit the title made me grab for it – about Perdita Eynescliffe’s experiences in the English civil war.

I say it’s unfair to compare them chiefly because Read more... )


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.
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: 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: (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... )
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
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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