logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: classics
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-03-31 14:17
Yes -- Still a Favorite
Miss Silver Comes to Stay - Patricia Wentworth,Diana Bishop

I'm getting to the point where I'm beginning to revisit "Miss Silver" books because I've read almost all the books in the series at least once.  (There are only some five or so books left that I've yet to read for the first time.)  So I figured, I might just as well start my rereads with the very first "Miss Silver" book I ever read, even before Tigus got us all hooked on the entire series, to see how my first impressions hold up now that I've encountered Maudie a good many times.  And I'm happy to say that yes, this is definitely still a favorite installment.

 

Some quick comments:

 

* Miss Silver should have brought cough drops on her visit to her friend.  I mean, we all know those little meaningful coughs are an indelible part of her character, but jeez, she really can't open her mouth without beginning virtually every statement with one of them here.

 

* There are no less than two professionals who should have recused themselves from having anything to do with the matter (one of them on multiple grounds, at least one of which they're openly discussing, albeit not under the headline of a conflict of interests).  The story wouldn't be what it is without them (and their conflict), so obviously recusal can't enter into things from a writerly point of view, but I'd still at least have liked to at least see it addressed for what it is -- especially in light of the very active part that one of these persons takes in the action, which would be uncalled-for even under normal circumstances and is plainly inexcusable from a professional perspective here.  For however much I otherwise like the book, this is one of the reasons I'm withholding a higher rating.

 

* I love the fact that this book, for once, doesn't focus on Wentworth's panoply of young protagonists (strong and independent, TSTL, or otherwise), but rather, on middle-aged people.  There are a few twenty-somethings as well, but they are decidedly less interesting (and with one exception, also less important) than the real MCs, who are all in their 40s or above.  I wish Wentworth had focused on that age group in a few more of her books; she did it really well.  (I love the way how she creates characters anyway, but this book contains some of her strongest yet.)

 

* The plotting is rather well done here, too; similar to the way in which Agatha Christie might have done it, in fact.

(And to those who would accuse Wentworth of dropping the solution deus-ex-machina-style, having revisited the book I'll respond that there actually are enough clues spread throughout the book to allow you to at the very least form a suspicion as to the "who", "why", and "how", if not actually solve the case, applying the same sort of logic that Miss Silver does.  This is all the more true as, even though Wentworth applies a technique similar to Christie's, she does so somewhat less dexterously than Christie, so while it's very obvious which conflicts she is interested in and why she presents the story the way she does, not every reader will necessarily be taken in entirely.)

(spoiler show)

 

* Frank Abbott still remains my favorite policeman in the series.  Randal March is nice enough, but no dice compared to Frank -- whom even the profoundest respect for Miss Silver won't stop from making fun of her every so often.

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-03-31 08:21
O Frabjous Day!
O Frabjous Day! - Lewis Carroll

I am not overly familiar with Lewis Carroll's work since I never liked Alice in Wonderland too much (the movies, never read the books). His poetry was completely new to me, but after I recently read Edward Lear's nonsense poetry (which was being compared as similar to Lewis Carroll) I was not looking forward to reading O Frabjous Day!. But, every week a Little Black Classics means reading one every week, so here we are.

My expectations were really low for this one, but I found it made at least way more sense than the Lear poems. Some of them still didn't resonance with me at all. But the hunting of the Snark was kind of nice, even though the rhyming was very nursery rhyme-y.

~Little Black Classics #106~

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-03-30 09:17
Nonsense
Nonsense - Edward Lear

This was utter nonsense!

I guess the title should have given fair warning, but I was still surprised at it. Maybe I was missing a lot, but I could not get anything out of these poems and was just hoping the book would finish quickly.

Really not my cup of tea.

~Little Black Classics 100~

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-03-29 17:10
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Case Is Closed - Patricia Wentworth,Diana Bishop
The Case Is Closed - Patricia Wentworth

Well, this was enjoyable.  As in some of Wentworth's other books, the mystery wasn't much to write home about (spoiler tags nevertheless, because at least one participant of the buddy read is still reading the book) --

 

the principal villains are known pretty much from the word "go", as is the way the whole thing was worked (there's one huge clue fairly early on which essentially gives the game away, and the false alibi is based on a trope that wasn't even new any longer when the book was first written); it's also clear that the fact that the guy currently languishing in prison is actually innocent of the crime; and so, too, in the "romance" compartment, it's being telegraphed literally from page 1 which one is the relationship we're following --

(spoiler show)

 

but at least Miss Silver makes more of an appearance than in book 1 (and she is decidedly more recognizable here as the character we know from later books than in book 1), and you can't help but love and root for Hilary, the female MC, and her "inner imp".  (The imp's poems had me laughing out loud -- every single one of them.)  Whatever made Hilary pick Henry, of all people, as her heart's desire beats me as much as everybody else in this buddy read; though I'll grant that he redeemed himself ever so slightly towards the end, and with liberal doses of frying pans and Hilary's imp I do see some hope for him ... he's just got learn to listen to his better / true instincts and not to what he believes others expect him to think and feel, and what therefore must be the "right" (i.e., socially acceptable) response.  (Incidentally, I loved how Diana Bishop in the audio version read the passages from inside Henry's head with an undeniably ironic subtext, thereby suggesting that Wentworth is mocking him for being the idiot he is.  This worked very well for me.)

 

Now having read the majority of the books in the series, I can also safely say I'm not a fan of "Wentworth does Gothic".  This book's "foggy road" episode was one of the better-executed examples, but I still wish she'd left "young heroine thoughtlessly puts herself in a sinister situation that she can't control (and which a wiser head would either have avoided or at least not entered alone)" behind at some point.  Unfortunately, that wasn't to be; almost every book of the series contains at least one example of this sort of thing.  So, unlike others in the buddy read, I'm not a fan of the "foggy road" episode.  Maybe if this had been the first book by Wentworth I read, I would feel different about it (and as I said, for what it's worth on its own, it's comparatively well done).  But as a recurring event in almost every book ... thank you, but no.

 

By and large, though, I enjoyed being back in Miss Silver's world -- I only missed Frank Abbott --, I still love how Wentworth creates characters, and this book is also a marked step up from Gray Mask; less reliant on tropes (even if some are still present), and for once, thankfully also devoid of TSTL females.

 

As a final side note, I wonder (have been wondering for a while) whether Wentworth ever heard from her contemporary / fellow mystery novelist and great-niece of Tennyson (the poet), F. Tennyson Jesse, on Miss Silver's unquestioning adoration of "Lord Tennyson".

 

(I already finished this book last night, btw, but life intervened earlier today, so I'm only getting around to posting my summary now.)

Like Reblog Comment
review 2020-03-27 16:07
Dracula
Dracula - Bram Stoker

by Bram Stoker

 

I have to wonder why I waited so long to read this Classic. It is wonderfully atmospheric and though in the form of journal entries, the story flows smoothly and lyrically and completely drew me in so much that I was seeking out other Bram Stoker writings by the time I got 4% in.

 

The plot is a well known one. Jonathan Harker is summoned to Castle Dracula to assist Count Dracula's intention to move to England. Along the way he meets several superstitious East Europeans who fear for him and speak of evil at the castle. By the time he arrives, he is already on edge. However, he is met by a most gracious host, and treated to the best of everything for his stay. This soon begins to take a sinister turn and Harker flees the castle to return home to England, but Dracula has what he needs to follow him there.

 

I loved the writing for the most part. The one exception is in some of Mina's entries where she is quoting characters with Northern accents. I've lived in Yorkshire and can understand the accents easily in real life, but in writing it doesn't come over well and I actually had to skim some of the dialogue without ever working out what they were saying.

 

On the plus side, each character had their own unique voice. Mina's entries are very different from Jonathan's and when other characters added to the narrative, they also had individual voices that fit their roles.

 

I've seen several movie versions of this story, but reading the original has given me a kind of pleasure I find difficult to describe. It's like I finally have the whole story for the first time and again, the writing is what has made this a Classic. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic fiction or scary vampire stories. It sets the bar for everything in the genre that comes after, apart from the ending which I thought was a little weak and rushed. I had expected a little more drama in the conclusion, probably because of movies that have raised expectations.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?