Yuletide

Oct. 17th, 2010 04:21 pm
melodiousb: (light)
[personal profile] melodiousb
If you are nominating little-known public domain books for Yuletide, come by and give them a mention here. I'll undertake to read at least a chapter of any book anyone pimps on this community, and if I like them and end up reading the whole thing, I may end up offering to write in the fandom. I don't think my writing is a great inducement for you guys to pimp your fandoms here, but maybe other people will do the same.

The public domain book fandoms I nominated this year are:

Tracy Park(1880-something), by Mary Jane Holmes. I've written about it here before. It's a mediocre family story redeemed by a whole slew of fantastic minor characters, some of whom are insane.

A Woman Named Smith(1917), by Marie Conway Oemler. The story of a secretary who inherits a fabulous mansion in the South, and, with her best friend, converts it into a fancy boarding house. They meet a lot of entertaaining celebrities, and there's also a mystery involving secret passageways, stolen jewels, and a mummy.

I Fasten a Bracelet(1910 or 11), by David Potter. A young man returns from traveling the world, puts an African slave-bracelet on his former fiancee, and demands that she do everything he tells her too. It's confusing and creepy and surprisingly well-written.

Three Weeks(1907), by Elinor Glyn. Glyn's most famous and most scandalous novel is the story of Paul Verdayne, a young Englishman who goes abroad and meets an older, possibly Russian, vaguely royal woman, with whom he has a steamy affair. Eventually they're parted, and it's very melodramatic and silly and wonderful.

I will happily talk more about any of these books to anyone that's interested, and you can find out more about all of them at my blog, Redeeming Qualities. And again, if you pimp your public domain Yuletide nominations here, and they are available for free on the internet, I promise to check them out.

Tracy Park

Sep. 23rd, 2010 12:18 pm
melodiousb: (haze)
[personal profile] melodiousb
So. Tracy Park. Long family novel, written by Mary Jane Holmes, published in the 1880s. Possibly under the title Gretchen.

To be honest, it's not a great book. But I love it.

It's about the the Tracy family, and how crazy Arthur goes off to Europe, leaving his house and land in the hands of his brother Frank, and how when he returns, he finds that Frank has settled in a lot more comfortably than he expected. And it's about Jerrie, a German orphan who arrives in town not long after Arthur's return and bears a close resemblance to Arthur's new stained glass window.

It's all fairly melodramatic and silly; what redeems it is the characters. There are a lot of them, and sometimes they do bad things, but none of them are evil, and they all have reasons for their actions, which is more than you can say about a lot of books that are mostly better than this one.

Almost every character has an obvious inner life and is worthy of his or her own story. Especially the nouveau riche Peterkins--I want the story of Ann Eliza and Tom Tracy getting married and going off to Paris and falling in love. I want Billy to go out west and have adventures and find some people who appreciate him. And it's not just the Peterkins. I want to read about Dolly Tracy as a snowbird, about Arthur's travels, about Jerrie and Ann Eliza and Marion and Nina at Vassar. The scope of the book is so large that within it there is room for a dozen other novels. And sometimes I feel like Holmes doesn't do her own characters the justice they deserve.

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