Leah A. Zeldes

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Leah A. Zeldes

Leah A. Zeldes’s book reviews

Charmingly romantic story of an invalid, left to solitary recuperation, who subscribes to a letter service to keep his spirits up. The characters here are much more fully drawn than Abbott's typical archetypes.
05/16/2008
A lively, humorous, romantic mystery, told with fine wit: Kit invites a batch of society types to help cheer up Jim, who's despondent over his divorce. Then she's talked into posing as his wife during the sudden visit of his wealthy aunt, who must be kept from knowing about the break-up. Unfortunately, the entire crew -- and several other unexpected characters -- find themselves cooped up together when the butler takes ill and the house is quarantined for smallpox. Meanwhile, the guests' jewels begin disappearing.
10/15/2007
Slow-moving, rather tedious tale of a selfish and unlikeable Chicago newspaperman with an unaccountable appeal to women. He abandons his adoring wife and elderly father for a young, single woman, ruins her life, and goes on to Europe, where he destroys a few more people. Heavy-handed and rather pointless.
09/21/2007
Chased out of the U.S. by anti-trust legislation, American millionaire King Kerry and his compatriots are buying up London real estate and commerce, much to the dismay of their competitors. Kerry, meanwhile, is plagued by an implacable enemy and a dark, romantic secret out of his past.

Something of a potboiler, but the story moves along, and comes to a somewhat surprising end.
09/02/2007
A Wodehousian comic novel about the Duc de Montevillier, who -- despite his aristocratic French lineage, is a root' tootin' cowboy out of Texas. He takes up residence in the London suburbs, pays court to the damsel next door from atop a sacred stepladder and is beset by bad guys, both of the of the Wild West and the City financier variety, with loads of witty language and drollery.

Unfortunately, this text is riddled with typographical errors and the story ends so abruptly that I can't help wonder whether some portion is missing.
09/01/2007
An American war correspondent's memoir of the privations and triumphs of dining amid rationing in Britain and France during World War I. Told lightly and with humor, this short piece is of interest to food historians and other seeking information about life during those difficult times, but it doesn't reach the heights of gourmet porn foodies will be looking for.
08/29/2007
Housekeeping lore and lectures get a slightly saccharin coating of fiction in this story of sweet, young Mary and her Pennsylvania relations. About to wed, Mary gives up her job teaching kindergarten and visits Bucks County in order to learn cooking, handicrafts and other housewifely skills from her Great-Aunt Sarah.

Along with these lessons, she gets tips on thrift, reads a great deal of sentimental poetry (included in the text) and travels around the area taking in the scenic views and historic sights, as well as arguing in favor of women's suffrage and setting up a chapter of the Camp Fire Girls.

It's not exactly thrilling reading -- the storybook section can get a bit prosy (Aunt Sarah is inclined to lecture) -- but there's a wealth of information about early-20th century homemaking techniques, including rug making, preserving and cookery, and the recipe section is full of interesting, old-fashioned American and Pennsylvania-Dutch/German recipes.
08/29/2007
Edna Ferber is one of the great, undersung writers of the 20th century. Her finely wrought stories concentrate on the lives of working people, especially women, amid urban landscapes, notably Chicago, drawn with lyrical detail. Every one of the stories in this collection is worthwhile.
08/22/2007
This is the first and best of an absolutely delightful series of humor-tinged mysteries featuring the quixotic Doan and his Great Dane partner. The only trouble is that there aren't enough of them.
08/21/2007
This romance follows sappy young Betty, a would-be artist, through her first love -- with an engaging but not overly scrupulous painter. It lacks the charm of Nesbit's stories for young people and comes to a predictable, socially acceptable conclusion, but the writing is clear, the story moves along and the descriptions of turn-of-the-century Paris add interest.
08/21/2007