The story of an intelligent, independent young British woman who sets out around the world in search of adventure. She finds plenty as she trips-up con-men, outsmarts Arabs, kills a tiger and, of course, saves the man she loves. Allen is a great writer so it's not nearly as trite as it may sound. It has humor and a couple of stinging barbs at the condescending attitude that was no doubt prevalent in those heady days of Victoria's global empire.
onday. If it weren't for the journey, I should have been glad enough to be rid of the minx. I'm glad as it is, indeed; for a more insolent, upstanding, independent, answer-you-back-again young woman, with a sneer of her own, I never saw, Amelia--but I must get to Schlangenbad. Now, there the difficulty comes in. On the one hand, if I engage a maid in London, I have the choice of two evils. Either I must take a trapesing English girl--and I know by experience that an English girl on the Continent is a vast deal worse than no maid at all: you have to wait upon her, instead of her waiting upon you; she gets seasick on the crossing, and when she reaches France or Germany, she hates the meals, and she detests the hotel servants, and she can't speak the language, so that she's always calling you in to interpret for her in her private differences with the fille-de-chambre and the landlord; or else I must pick up a French maid in London, and I know equally by experience th
A fun book, easy enough to read, and flowing quite nicely for the vast majority of its pages.
Some extraordinary scenes that add colour but reduce some believability - for example happening to shoot an accidental straight bullet into the head of a tiger whilst having the life scared out of you whilst atop an elephant who has been attacked by the ferocious cat - even though the shooter has never held a gun, seen a tiger, or ridden a pachyderm (quite far-fetched? - you betcha!).
Nevertheless the book is ahead of its time in respect of the strength of character of the hero Miss Lois Cayley who is ready to take on the world with tuppence in her pocket; and to show those that she meets, men, women, friends, lovers, relatives alike - that she is a woman who knows what she wants and will not compromise to meet the usual norms of society.
This book is a hoot. It is well-written, and its characters feel quite real, as do the situations they get themselves into -- and out of. And a lot of the latter goes on.
Allen has taken the form heroic epic and turned it around, twice. First by making it modern, second by making the hero a heroine, and a mighty feisty one at that. But he retains the geographic wandering, episodic structure, clearly-defined good and bad, and an invincible and nearly infallible protagonist.
The heroine is worthy of note, and respect. Rarely at a loss for what to do or say, Miss Cayley is perhaps at her best turning aside potential suitors and taming tough old ladies. Everything that happens is more or less realistic. That is, until she comes home to save her beloved from the clutches of evil-doers, making for a happily ever after.
I had to laugh at Allen's rendering of colloquial American speech, which he seems to concocted out of 50% Mark Twain (Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer) and 50% "How to Make Money." It's all good fun, though, in the end, just like this book.
How original! Stunning, actually, for the time. The heroine reminds me quite a bit of famed fictional Egyptologist Amelia Peabody (current series by Elizabeth Peters). Lois Cayley is proof against any number of dastardly villains (like Peabody, but whereas Peabody needs to be duly equipped with her ubiquitous umbrella, Lois has no weaponry at all besides her very sharp wits). Lois is such a strong role model that I wondered all of the time that I was reading the book if societally repressed young girls kept her adventures under their pillows to be read in secret? I wouldn't be the least bit suprised! An amazing bit of independent womanhood from a time when woman were considered as nothing more than bubble-headed children...and written by a man! Enjoy!
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