Recent Reviews

Love's Shadow

by Ada Leverson

This surprisingly modern-feeling comedy of manners contrasts the dull life of Edith Otley, a young matron with a tiresomely narcissistic and fatuous husband and somewhat straitened means, with the more exciting one of her friend Hyacinth Verney, a substantial heiress, single, beautiful, charming and independent.

The story mainly concerns the courtship of Hyacinth and Cecil Reeve. She's in love with him, but he loves another woman, Eugenia Raymond, a widow 10 years his senior. The widow refuses him, so he falls back on Hyacinth on the rebound. However, her awareness of his devotion to Mrs. Raymond impinges on their relationship.

The writing is excellent. Those who think the language of Jane Austen and Fanny Burney somewhat stilted and old-fashioned should find this more to their liking. The ending seems rather abrupt and unsatisfying, however.

Reviewed on 2016.01.11
by Leah A. Zeldes

Tenterhooks

by Ada Leverson

This second novel in "The Little Otleys" trilogy focuses on Bruce and Edith, and their disintegrating marriage. Hyacinth Reeve does not appear, nor any other significant characters from the first book, and you can read this one without having read the earlier novel.

Edith Ottley finds herself drawn to Aylmer Ross, a man very much more her intellectual equal than the fatuous and self-centered Bruce. Ross is deeply in love with her, yet she keeps him at arm's length out of a disinterested loyalty to her ridiculous husband. Even when she knows that Bruce is having affairs with other women, she refuses to leave him — for the sake of convention, her children, her mother-in-law and the hapless Bruce himself — much to Aylmer's unhappiness.

This book is much more serious than "Love's Shadow," more real and even better written, though something of a downer. The tone is less like Jane Austen and more like a cross of Evelyn Waugh and Barbara Pym.

Reviewed on 2016.01.11
by Leah A. Zeldes

Love at Second Sight

by Ada Leverson

The third "Little Otleys" book takes place three years after the close of book 2.

World War I is in progress. Bruce Ottley, back with Edith, whom he left in "Tenterhooks," has used a hypochondriac's excuse to avoid military service. The couple is hosting an older widow, the charming but peculiar Madame Frabelle, who has insinuated herself into their household and social group.

Aylmer Ross, injured at the front, has returned to London to recover. He and Edith haven't seen each other in three years, yet they find their feelings for each other revive. Also on the scene is a beautiful young nurse, in love with Ross.

It's not quite so strong as book 2, but still quite well written, and readers who enjoyed that will surely want to read this one.

Reviewed on 2016.01.11
by Leah A. Zeldes

Miss Cayley's Adventures

by Grant Allen

In this fun romantic adventure, intrepid Lois Cayley, freshly graduated from Girton, and all but penniless, decides to travel the world, with no advance planning whatever.

Through luck and serendipity, she starts out as a companion to a cantankerous old lady, Lady Georgina Fawley, bound for a rest cure on the Continent. Lois next becomes a sales agent for bicycles in Switzerland, opens a typewriting business in Florence and then tries her hand at journalism in Egypt. Along the way, she winds up involved with several other members of Lady G's family, receives several proposals of marriage and foils various machinations of an artful con man.

Fans of Elizabeth Peters and Alexander McCall Smith, among others, should enjoy the feisty Miss Cayley.

Reviewed on 2016.01.11
by Leah A. Zeldes

Wieland; or, The Transformation

by Charles Brockden Brown

A very dark story of manipulation and sabotage. Someone or something is destroying the seeming idyllic harmony of the Wieland family. Theodore Wieland, the patriarch of the Weiland family, begins hearing voices telling him to commit the unthinkable. Who or what is behind the voices and what is the ultimate motive behind them.
This book is part mystery and part Psychological thriller. Theodore's descent into madness is chilling and disturbing. In many ways it is a foreshadowing of Stephen King's The Shining.

Reviewed on 2016.01.11
by Michael

The Lion's Skin

by Rafael Sabatini

An ok adventure / romance, centered around a scheme to prove an English lord's Jacobite political leanings for the purpose of revenge. The evil young lord Ostermore and his mother add enough interest to rescue this book. Three stars, but there are better Sabatini books on this site.

Reviewed on 2016.01.09
by bhold

A Pair of Blue Eyes

by Thomas Hardy

A romantic intrigue involving one woman and a series of lovers set in the typical Thomas Hardy setting. This book is a great study of the English class structure. The young woman as well as her lovers are complex and flawed characters. The climactic ending is not a happy one but fitting. I enjoyed the experience. I would have given it a 5 except that some parts were not easy.

Reviewed on 2016.01.08
by Larry

Lost in the Future

by John Victor Peterson

This is a two-page story, and little of consequence happens in it. There is no real plot, no action, and nothing but cardboard characters. The author's pontification of a scientific point may be forgiven, but his inability to build a story around it can't.

Reviewed on 2016.01.07
by JoJo Biggins

The Lost Kafoozalum

by Pauline Ashwell

I dithered back and forth for a while over whether this was a 4 or 5 star story - in truth, a 4.5. I finally chose 4 simply because the writing was a bit hard to follow - even though this was intentional and fit perfectly with the main character.

We have here an excellent first person novel in which we get a pretty good glimpse of the inside of the main character's head. Characterization is fantastic, and the plot is solid and interesting.

Reviewed on 2016.01.07
by JoJo Biggins

The Lost Kafoozalum

by Pauline Ashwell

I dithered back and forth for a while over whether this was a 4 or 5 star story - in truth, a 4.5. I finally chose 4 simply because the writing was a bit hard to follow - even though this was intentional and fit perfectly with the main character.

We have here an excellent first person novel in which we get a pretty good glimpse of the inside of the main character's head. Characterization is fantastic, and the plot is solid and interesting.

The whole story is so unique that I'd rather just heap praise on it and let the reader enjoy it afresh, rather than giving away any plot points here.

Reviewed on 2016.01.07
by JoJo Biggins

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