All posts tagged: book reviews

Friday Reads: A Star Danced

This book was another of my ‘cheap, old, in-an-op-shop and with an interesting title’ discoveries.  I’ve learned a little bit since My Theodosia and I take the time to read a few pages before buying a book now. The intro to A Star Danced sold me immediately: CB Cochran!  1911 theatre productions!  Over-blown language!  I’m so there! I also realised when reading the introduction that I actually know who Gertrude Lawrence is – one of the generation of pre-WWII British actresses who, because they never made it to Hollywood, have faded into sadly underserved obscurity in recent years. In her own day Gertrude Lawrence was the ‘brightest star’ (as the phrase goes) of the London theatre scene, close friends with Noel Coward, and a smashing success on Broadway.  A Star Danced is her autobiography, tracing her life from less-than-conventional childhood to international stardom. Celebrity autobiographies are always a bit hit and miss, but either Gertrude had a lot of help or she could sing, dance, act AND write, because the book is unfailingly interesting and …

Friday Reads: The Prisoner of Zenda

OK, first off, I need to start this post with a confession. I found out about the Prisoner of Zenda from a comment on this blog.  Yes, up until a few months ago I had never heard of it.  I don’t know how I (historical literature obsessed freak that I am) managed to miss it.  It’s had eight film adaptions after all, launched an entire literary genre (the Ruritanian romance) and added the term ‘Ruritanian’ to our language! Once I realised the dreadful gap in my literary knowledge, I was determined to fix it.  No luck at the Wellington Public Library, no luck in any bookstore I popped in to in NZ.  And then, in a secondhand bookstore just down the street from ThreadDen in Melbourne – success!    And, best of all, it was the only book in the shop that wasn’t Au$20 (really, I thought that books were exorbitantly expensive in NZ, but Oz is even worse!). So, here is my copy of The Prisoner of Zenda, read from cover to cover on the …

Friday Reads: Molly Make-Believe by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

I first encountered Molly Make-Believe in the December 1911 issue of the Girl’s Own Paper. I started reading it, and was utterly enchanted: the writing wasn’t genius, but the whole effect was so charming, and frivolous, and very, very period. I devoured the exposition with much mirth.  I chuckled at the introductory sentence, which rivaled the infamous “it was a dark and stormy night” (I have always dreamed of eating a vapid grapefruit, haven’t you?). I met Carl Stanton, our atypically bedridden hero, suffering from a most unromantic case of rheumatism described with writing that suffered from a most amusing case of over-use of adjectives, some most alarmingly mis-applied. I met Carl’s not-quite-fiance Cornelia: the epitome of 1910s beauty, “big and bland and blond and beautiful”,  off to warmer climes, because every girl like Cornelia must go off to warmer climes for winter, sick fiance or no. I followed along as Carl encountered ‘The Serial Letter Co’, which made me gasp in delight.  Talk about the best pen-pal ever.  I want to subscribe to all …