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Reading in bed

OVERVIEW: The last week or so

I've mainly been reading:

To Davy Jones Below: Carola Dunn

Daisy Dalrymple is now Mrs Fletcher, and gets the opportunity to settle further into married life via the offer of an extended, working honeymoon for her and Alec. American Millionaire Arbuckle (introduced in ‘Damsel in Distress’) wants Alec to come and give a few pointers to the fledgling detective agencies in the US, and so the Fletchers join the Arbuckle party on a cruise ship, travelling across the Atlantic, a journey that Daisy is to write an article about.

They also make new friends and acquaintances, one of whom is a Yorkshire farm labourer turned millionaire industrialist, another an herbalist whose comment that she would have been called a ‘witch’ for her concoctions in the past is taken up by Daisy and friends, although they nearly all turn to ‘the witch’ for her remedies. And then bodies start falling overboard, some of them dead. Alec is asked to investigate, which means Daisy gets involved too, especially as Alec succumbs to seasickness.

The plot gets rather convoluted, and the relative ambiguity of the resolution is suggestive. The cruise ship as a microcosm of society works well, and Dunn handles this new chapter in Daisy’s life in a way that is promising for the rest of the series. (I wonder if the next book will be set in the US.)

Under a Cornish Sky: Liz Fenwick

The longer this book, a mix of subgenres, went on, the less of a hold it had on me. It took too long for the two main protagonists to get over their issues.

One is Victoria Lake, a monomaniacal bitch, who desperately wants to restore her family home, especially the garden, but who really needs to see a therapist (or to grow up according to the love of her life. She is sixty.) The more sympathetic protagonist, Demi Williams, finds out who her father is at the age of 25, only to lose him before talking to him as an adult. However, Charles Lake has left half of Boscawen and his money to her, his illegitimate daughter, and the other half to Victoria. Ironically, despite being an heiress, Demi is borderline homeless, her work prospects having gone down the pan at the same time as she realised her boyfriend was toxic. But with a furious Victoria contesting the will and remaining unreasonable, what is ‘little mouse’ Demi to do? Throw in the mysterious gaps of her memories of her childhood, a grandfather who is growing old, a hunky gardener and there’s plenty to make one turn the pages, although I thought some of the execution of the resolutions of the love stories were let-downs and I’d have perhaps liked more elements of Celtic myth than the slow working through of psychological issues and wounds.

Clover Cottage: Frances Cowan.

This is a decent enough family story. Margaret Symes and her twin siblings are trying to put a smiling face on the fact that they, unlike their friends, will be stuck in town for the summer, because they can’t really afford to get away. But a great aunt fortuitously dies and leaves the family a cottage. While their mother warns that it has been left alone for years, the children are enraptured by the idea of living there. After hard work, help from new friends and a few twists, they manage to make a new home.

If she were a little older and the book had been written earlier, Margaret would be an exemplary heroine. As it is, the adults and a new friend are a little worried about ‘Miss Sobersides.’ But she’s thirteen and an observant and thoughtful eldest child, who notices when her mother is worried, or tired because there’s also a baby – their father is in the merchant navy. The new interest of Clover Cottage, the benefits of living in the country and a new friendship help Margaret in this regard.

The League of the Links: E. M. de Foubert

This has an epilogue and a prologue, which is unusual for a school story. Jean leaves Bardstone for the holidays having promised her Ruritanian (sorry, Euratonian) pal Carola that she will write. But Carola never writes back, and Jean is looking forward to seeing her again when she returns to school for an explanation. Except Carola is not returning for ‘a few days’ which turn into much longer.

In the meantime, dependable Jean is asked to look after impish new girl Phoebe, who is quite a character, and certainly outwits cricket-mad classmate Alison. Yet as Jean tries to find an address for Carola, Phoebe is sympathetic, and part of the fun is watching their friendship grow page by page while Jean is concerned about another friend the reader is less invested in. By the by, Jean is not soppy about Carola, oh, no. She is unconsciously responding to Carola's secret royal status. The latter is meant to be a secret to be revealed at the end of the book, but one of the illustrations and a working knowledge of the genre give it away. Alison and co, who decide to help Jean by adding two and two together and coming up with seven don't work it out, though. The plot is ludicrous and there are too many exclamation marks, but there’s something about the characters.

And I got a bundle of Angela Brazil books for a reasonable price per book.

This entry was originally posted at http://feather-ghyll.dreamwidth.org/145564.html. Please comment wherever you prefer to.


Girl reader

March 2018



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