Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What I Read in November 2015 Part IV

What I Read in November 2015 Part IV ...

Green MoneyGreen Money by D.E. Stevenson-- Historical Fiction

George Ferrier has had a grand time in London celebrating his 25th birthday with friends. As he is about to return to his country home and beloved parents, he's met by a Mr. Green who claims to be an old friend of Mr. Ferrier's from the war days (WWI). George politely agrees to have lunch and drinks with Mr. Green and listens to the older man's reminisces. After a few more drinks, George finds himself agreeing to be trustee to the estate and Green's daughter. Green will die easier knowing his little girl is well looked after and George will be 500 pounds richer. Green insists he's good for another 20 years but shortly after their meeting, Mr. Green passes away, leaving his daughter to the trustees, including George. George's friend Paul Seeley encourages George to visit his ward, Elma. Elma, carefully reared to be a "delicate flower" by a Victorian governess, appears meek and mild but she's a quick study when she discovers there's a "new-fashioned" way of doing things. She longs to be a "new-fashioned" woman and leads George on a merry chase across the country when George discovers a secret about her new-fashioned friends. Meanwhile, Paul's little sister "Dan" is having a tough time at school and George agrees to help. How can he help when he has girls hanging on his arm all the time? George's mother, Paul and his sister Cathy are all convinced George is going to marry that girl and none of them are happy about it. He isn't sure who he wants to marry but he begins to get a clearer picture the more time he spends with Elma.

This is one of D.E. Stevenson's own favorite novels. It reads a lot of like a Jane Austen novel in parts. (I think Miss Stevenson was a fan of Mansfield Park). It also features some intrigue and complications in imitation of Heyer but not quite as wild or well-written. The first part of the book is pretty dull until the last page of that section. Then the story picks up and I had a tough time putting it down. I felt the ending was very rushed and there are too many extraneous plot points happening here. The ending surprised me though. At first I thought something different was going to happen but then I realized what actually was going to happen. It took too long to get there though. A little trimming in the beginning and a lot more ending would have been better. I didn't find this story as humorous as the dust jacket implied. It's not laugh out loud funny but it is a comical social commentary something like Jane Austen.

I didn't like any of the characters in this book and found them all annoying. George is not very quick but he has a level head on his shoulders. At first I didn't like him at all because he seemed like a frivolous idiot. I was confused as to why he was window shopping for his mother, it made him seem younger than his 25 years. As the plot really started to kick into high gear, I grew to like George. Though Green didn't know it, he chose exactly the right man to be one of the trustees. He can rest easy knowing George is on the job. I liked the way George dealt with his problems and how kind he was to animals and children.

Elma annoyed the heck out of me. I didn't quite understand why she wanted to be "new-fashioned" and why she was so empty-headed as to go along with whatever any man proposed. She wasn't raised to think for herself but I would think some common sense and decorum would have been instinctual. She really really got on my nerves as the story went on and I understand George's reactions to her behavior. Her governess Miss Wilson is somewhat to blame but she can't help being Victorian and as stuffy as they come. She was hired for that very reason, presumably.

I disliked the other characters too. First, George's mother is tough and cold unless you're an animal. I didn't really see why George was so close to her. She didn't seem the motherly type. She seemed the battle ax take-charge type. Mr. Ferrier is so absent-minded and focused on his stars, he can't see what's happening in front of his face. He inconveniences everyone around him without a second thought.The Seeleys are even worse parents. They don't even appear on page but their neglect of their younger daughter is apparent. Cathy is too good and self-sacrificing. She is strong minded and firm in her opinions which I admired but mostly she's Fanny Price, taking care of the family. Paul is moody and irritable for no good reason at all except one he thinks is a reason. All he had to do was talk to his friend but instead he gets into a snit. Dan is the only Seeley I liked and could relate to.

This is a quiet, pleasant read. It's not wonderful but it's not terrible. This type of plot just isn't really my favorite.

A Six-Cylinder CourtshipSix Cylinder Courtship by Edward Salisbury Field-- Edwardian Romance

William Snowden gives his friend Jimmie a joyride in his new car when Jimmie gets a speck of dust in his eye and stops at a druggist to get it out. William puts his driving goggles on, turns out and meets fate face to face. Fate in the form of true love. The woman of his dreams mistakes him for a taxi driver and he goes along with the ruse to get to know her. When fate steps in once again, William risks losing all he's worked towards.

This Edwardian romance is a quick, light little read. There are some cutesy car references in the beginning applied to human actions and emotions which I didn't much like. I don't care for cars much and don't know anything about them so that was kind of beyond me. The romance is intriguing and unique. I couldn't put it down until I found out how it would end. However, I didn't really care for William and his style of courtship. Relationships based on lies and deceit really bother me and I don't like creepy stalker romances either. William went to too great lengths to lie in order to meet his mystery woman. They don't really know each other at all so I didn't really buy into the romance. However, I did want William to succeed. I'm torn! He seems to be based on a Vanderbilt or other socialite of the period but he seems like a really decent guy from the reader's perspective. It's too bad his love interest doesn't get to know him the way the reader does.

Stylistically this book is beautiful. There's a colored frontispiece, illustrations and a decorative border featuring Cupid and some car motif designs.

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