Reviews by E. L. Kelly II

Betty at Fort Blizzard

by Molly Elliot Seawell

I'm glad I stumbled upon and read this novel. It was a revelation for me regarding the spirit of the pen behind the words. Before one sets down to spread the ink, one must have the mental flexibility, intelligence, and will to make the unbelievable not only believable, but tangible to the reader. I think that's what I meant.

Whatever qualifications I'm looking for in a novel, I realized them because "Betty at Fort Blizzard" lacks them to an unbelievable degree. Its got this simplistic story, lower-than Hollywood B-movie-level characterization, and all-too-perfect Munchkin main characters, all wrapped within a lazy, cloistered depiction of military life so unrealistic that this non-military man smelled the fake in 20 pages. In a quality book, an ethnic stereotype is an insignificant annoyance explained away by the attitudes of the times; in this tripe, the character sticks out like a watermelon vine in a corn patch.

Occasionally, I found myself wondering what author Molly Elliot Seawell was going on: Did she research anything she didn't know? I understand this was one of the later books in a series; are there superior, early Betty novels? I suspect she was a demure, bored military wife. Its the kind of book so dismal in its craft that it insults its own author.

Reviewed on 2010.04.20

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