Friday, October 21, 2016

Four Short Reviews

I wish I could tell you that The Lord of the Rings and my other current reads were keeping me busy, but alas, it would be untrue. I have not read any of my current reads for several days. Gasp! I have, instead, been working hard at a couple of immense projects that have reached critical stages this week. One of those is an arts conference my family is running on Saturday, and the other is that Top Secret Project I've been hinting at for a little while. Regarding which, make sure to come back early next week for some thrilling revelations!

In the meantime, then, it's back to the old Goodreads backlog. Here are a few short reviews of vintage novels, read in the last year, which somehow never found their way to this blog.


Gentle JuliaGentle Julia by Booth Tarkington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't read a lot of American humour, but this book was hilarious. Florence behaves a little young for a 13-year-old, but she's an unforgettable character - an imaginative blunderbuss of a little girl who takes a sudden shine to her pretty Aunt Julia's most hapless, helpless suitor (named, if you can credit it, Noble Dill) - and whose matchmaking attempts, assisted by Noble's wonderful gormlessness, wreak havoc upon the whole town.

I laughed out loud right through this book, but as time passed I became less convinced Tarkington would be able to give us a satisfying ending, given that the limp Dill is the closest thing we have to a hero. Indeed, the ending, while it made a decent punchline, and was pretty realistic, didn't satisfy.

Recommended if you want a good laugh and don't mind the weak ending.


Freckles (Limberlost #1)Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I feel bad for not liking Gene Stratton Porter as much as everyone else, but this one was a little too precious and sentimental for me, and it took me an age to get through. Some of you may have a higher tolerance for this kind of thing; in which case, there's plenty to like, especially some lovely writing about nature and a cheerfully preposterous long-lost-identity plot.


No Bed for BaconNo Bed for Bacon by Caryl Brahms
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun, rollicking read satirising the Elizabethan era.

I wonder if I'm quite well-educated enough to get all the jokes. Parts of the book were laugh-out-loud funny ("In what manner that I have not already used," he [Shakespeare] asked Dick Burbage, "can I bring a heroine to life who has been most dead?" HA SO TRUE), especially everything to do with Sir Walter Raleigh. The book is fairly dry and straight-faced, and I couldn't shake the feeling that some of the jokes were flying over my head.

Even if some of them do, this is still a gloriously silly read which any fan of Shakespeare and the Elizabethans is sure to enjoy.

Do Butlers Burgle Banks?Do Butlers Burgle Banks? by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of Wodehouse's late novels, from a period when his work was losing lustre. Chuckle-worthy but never uproarious, PGW seems to be merely going through the motions in this tale of a young banker in hot water and the gentlemanly gangster who comes to his rescue. Most of the jokes read like retreads, and his roundabout way of saying things seems (dare I say it) a little plodding. And yet, despite the tiredness of the writing style, this farce is superbly plotted, full of outrageous twists and turns.

Good fun.

View all my reviews

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can I have never heard of Caryl Brahms - and (having looked her up) collaborator S.J. Simon, and Ned Sherrin having collaborated with her later? Thanks for giving me such a lot to look out for and forward to!

And, Booth Tarkington is such a famous name with positive sound - yet I don't think I've ever read any: so, thank, here, too!

David Llewellyn Dodds

Anonymous said...

Looking to see if there was anything about Caryl Brahms on YouTube, I find that I have known and delighted in one Brahms-Sherrin collaboration without knowing (or, remembering?) it: Beecham (1990), which I vividly remember enjoying at The Kilns while working at the dining-room table on my Arthurian Poets edition of Williams (is that how some of the ghastly typos slipped in or survived?)...

And, checking its title at IMDB, I find I have known and delighted in a film adapted from a Brahms-Simon collaboration as well, The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947).

Off to a good start...

And, I see there's a LibriVox audiobook of Gentle Julia - which may get me acquainted with it, all the sooner...

David Llewellyn Dodds

Suzannah said...

:D So glad to have introduced you to an old new friend, David! Enjoy!

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