Madame Solario By Gladys Huntington

I received an ARC of this book from the lovely people at Persephone Books. It is one of the three tittles being released this fall by their imprint.

A brief history of this book, it was initially published in 1956 under a pseudonym. It was only many years later that her name was attached to the story. Huntington also wrote plays along with her novels. As far as I know this story was last reprinted in the 1980's by Penguin.

Now onto the review.

The first impressions I got of this story were that it combined elements of "Lolita", "Sophie's Choice" and "Mansfield Park". At the time when the book came out, "Lolita" and "Sophie's Choice" still had yet to exist. It is the story of a woman who became the obsession of more than six men. Each of these obsessions caused different forms of strife. It makes you wonder if Madame Solario welcomed there attentions or abhorred them. Was she an attention seeking and vain creature or just a victim of circumstance. Or finally just a plain victim.

This is one of those stories that reamains with you after you finish it. Could the characters done other things to alter their outcomes to make them happier or did some form of narcissism or self importance win out in the end. The European setting of the early 20th Century before The Russian Revolution and World War One also helped to amplify the proceedings of the story.

I would highly recommend this story to readers of Vladimir Nabakov, Leo Tolstoy, Angela Carter, and Margaret Atwood. I hope this edition becomes a big seller in its latest imprint.

Keep on reading everybody.

Forgotten Fiction Frank Belknap Long

Having just finished a spate of H.P. Lovecraft stories I wanted to continue in that vein. So I selected Frank Belknap Long. He wrote under his name and two pen names. One of those being his wife. So if you ever find stories written by Lyda Belknap Long you are reading Frank.

Many of his early stories were part of the Lovecraftian mythos and then he branched out to other genres such as Science Fiction, Gothics, and Westerns. What ever the reading public wanted he wrote. Thus keeping his stories in many magazines for years.

I have yet to read any of his novels, but he is a master at the short story form. I recently read "The Man Who Died Twice", "The Man From Time", "The Man The Martians Made", "Humpty Dumpty", "The Calm Man", "The Sky Trap" and "The Missippi Saucer". From the previous tittles you can tell he liked to use the word man.

I found some of the stories on Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks, and the obsolete Munsey's Mobile site. "Humpty Dumpty" took a while to find, but I had sucess in getting it. Many of the stories are out of print, but now that the copyright on some of them has expired we might start to see more. I have a feeling we won't see reprints of the Gothics until at least 2020 when the copyrights start to run out for those.

Frank Belknap Long is an author that needs to be brought back.

Now onto other forgotten fiction that I am reading. The first is Weird Tales Magazine. Volume 24 #3. I am currently into the first story which is by Seabury Quinn. I will try to do a review on the whole issue after I finish it.

The other piece of forgotten fiction is "Madame Solario" by Gladys Hunting. It has recently be re-printed by Persephone Books for their fall releases. The last major re-print of this book was in the 1980's by Penguin. Persephone Books kindly sent me a copy to review and so far I am enjoying it greatly.

So those dusty tomes sitting in the back of a great aunts or grandparents library are worth dusting off and rediscovering.

Keep on reading everybody.

The Crimson Petal And The White By Michel Faber

This was a long and very impressive novel. During my time spent with it, I kept looking forward to reading it. And yes, I would like to read more of Faber's work.

This is a story about a woman named Sugar and the people in her circle. Sugar happens to be a prostitute in Victorian era England who will do anything. But she has a secret. She has educated herself in literature and other subjects of the day. She is a very intelligent woman and that makes her different and special. She meets a man by the name of William that will lead her into a whirlwind.

I am having a bit of a book hangover, but Faber did write some short stories about his characters in a book entitled "The Apple". I will get to that story very soon.

Don't let the legenth of the novel be over daunting. It is a very brilliant story and well worth reading.

Keep on reading everybody. As usual I can be found on goodreads, Litsy, and Open Library.

The Virago Book Of Food.

I like the quality of books that Virago puts out. That said many forgotten authors were mentioned in the book "The Virago Book of Food: The Joy of Eating". There were snippets of writing by authors such as Enid Blyton, Barbara Comyns, Edna Ferber, Rumer Godden, Elizabeth Taylor, and Dorothy Wordsworth.

The food writing in this book featured recipes, journeys to out of the way places to taste regional food, dinner successes, and dinner failures. The writers noted down childhood favourites and hates.

But what made this book for me, was how cooking has evolved over the centuries. A meal that used to take days, such a sumptuous wedding feats would take days, sometimes weeks to complete. Now there are venues with industrial kitchen that can prepare feasts in hours.

A person from the 15th century might get confused and bemused with all the items it now takes to cook something in the 21st century. One or two knives that were probably used in the 15th century are now replaced with five or more in this century. For me living in an Asian household there is the small cleaver and the big cleaver. There is a butcher knife, but I brought that with me as part of my stuff when we set up housekeeping.

This book is an enjoyable time out from the cuisine that is prevalent in the world today.

American Pulp By Paula Rabinowitz

Last week at the library I was looking at the 805's to the 830's and found "American Pulp". Being a big fan of mid 20th century paperbacks, I checked it out.

Pulp is a history of the mid century paperback trade and how it influenced American reading habits. The book showed how changing the cover of a high brow classics could make them more appealing to the average reader. Then of course, after there were obscenity charged held on the artwork of the covers, the lewdness went away for a few decades.

Probably the most interesting items I took away from the book were how Penguin publishing sent one of their own to the states and how he defected and started his own publishing houses. The other item being how Penguin's Pelican imprint morphed into NAL, New American Library, and Mentor books. Flash forward to the 21st century, and the aforementioned imprints still play a big role in publishing industry as Penguin imprints.

The biggest surprise was the continual mention of "The Blank Wall" by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. I had to get my copy of the book through Persephone Books, because at the time I wanted it it was no longer in print in America. Now it has been recently been reprinted in a new collection along with the story "Laura" by Vera Caspary. I also found a new author to read, Ann Petry.

Give this one ago and find out about how changing a book covers promoted a literacy movement.

As usual I am on goodreads, litsy, and OpenLibrary. Keep on reading everybody.

More Forgotten Authors

Just a quick posting. This past week at work some books came in by three forgotten authors, Elswyth Thane, Janice Holt Giles, and Eugenia Price. I have added some of their works to my goodreads TBR list.

Also, if you haven't checked out litsy give it a go.

Keep on reading eveybody.

Forgotten Fiction The Spy With Five Faces By Amelia Elizabeth Walden

"The Spy With The Five Faces" was saved off a discard pile from a school I was employed at. I did some research on Amelia Elizabeth Walden and didn't find very much. So, she now has her day in the sun with Forgotten Fiction. This is what I could find, Walden was considered to be one of the first writers of what is known as YA fiction today. She mostly wrote about young women trying to find their place in the world. A line from the biography in the back of the book says, "Miss Walden's books are full of enthralling characters no matter whether they are about sport or the theater, or have a love, career, or suspense theme". One more fact I did find is that Walden has a book award named for her. And, that she was the one that endowed it.

Now onto the story. The main action of the story takes place in and around Mexico City of the 1960's. The main character is a teacher named Toni, trying to find her lost brother. Toni has to rely on her heritage to help her find her lost family. The story has the themes of romantic suspense, adventure, anthropology, and science. And remember things aren't always what they seem.

This book has shown how YA has evolved, but also stays the same. Do not dismiss YA because some of the stories are very engrossing and it keeps people reading. YA also dares to ask the question what it an adult issue and what is a child issue. This genre helps many people who often read it, because sometimes it can lead to answers that can make the transition from child to adult much easier.

But I digress. Time to step off the soap box.

Walden's book was time well spent. As soon as I started it, I knew that I had to drop whatever I could to finish it.

Now it is back to my Michener book and another early YA book circa 1950,s called "Dark Sunshine" by Dorothy Lyons.

Keep on reading everybody.

Charles Dickens And Wilkie Collins

As many readers know Dicken's and Collins were friends and colalboators in middle Victorian Era England. And of course Dicken's daughter Katie married Wilkie's brother and she became the younger Mrs. Collins.

I just finished a spate of books about and by these two writers. The first was a 1000+ page biography about Dickens by Peter Ackroyd, "Great Expectations" by Dickens, "The Frozen Deep" by Collins, and finally "The Wreck of The Golden Mary" by Dickens, Collins and four other writers.

The Dickens biography was very well written and could be seen as an entry point to his world. I have read other biographies and still plan on reading more. Peter Ackroyd did very thorough research into CD's life. But, because there is so much information about certain parts of CD's life other areas of the life often tended to be gleaned over. Still, I highly recommend this book.

The second book being "Great Expectations" was also a very good read. I did a review for this book on goodreads. The only thing I didn't like about the story is that parts of the ending seemed rushed and muddled. The book is much better than all of the film adaptions that I have seen so far.

Book number three was "The Frozen Deep" by Wilkie Collins. In my opinion this story should be skipped unless one is a Collins completist. It was originally written as a play and Dickens had a heavy hand in its writing. The story adaptation wasn't the best and it turned into a bad Victorian pot boiler melodrama. I usually enjoy Collins's work, but this was just not up to his usual stories.

The last book was "The Wreck of The Golden Mary" by Dickens, Collins, Percy Fitzgerald, Harriet Parr, Adelaide Anne Proctor, and Reverend James White. This collection was printed in 1856 for the Christmas edition of Dicken's journal "Household Words". Years earlier, Dickens stopped writing a book for the holiday season and would write a short story or two for whichever journal he was working on at the current moment. "Golden Mary" was considered to be the most depressing of the holiday stories because it didn't include his usual themes of good feelings and redemption. The only theme carried over into this story was the ghosts mentioned in the other writers stories. Everything in "Golden Mary" fit in well together and is worth taking an afternoon to read.

Now to step away from the Victorian era and head back to the 20th and 21st century.

I'm starting James Michener's biography "The World Is My Home" and I'm greatly looking forward to it.

There is a new reading app/community that I have joined. It's called litsy. Someone described it as what would happen if goodreads and Instagram had a baby. I am having complete fun with it because I enjoy taking photos. I even took courses in my younger years on photography. You just gotta love the smell of fixer and photo paper catching on fire in a malfunctioning dryer.

As usual along with litsy I can be found on goodreads and OpenLibrary. Keep on reading everybody.

Mini Isak Dinessen Read-A-Thon

A few years ago I found a copy of Isak Dinesen's "Seven Gothic Tales" at a charity shop. Recently my mum has been asking me if a copy of "Out Of Africa" has come through where I work. One copy did come through and I snatched it up for her along with "Babette's Feast". So I decided to re-read "Out of Africa" as well as the other two novels before passing them along to her.

Some of the stories were long and drawn out and they never seemed to end. Other stories were quite short and they had ambiguous endindings.

There were a few gems in with the stories. The one that stood out to me the most was "Tempests". This story can be found in "Babette's Feast." The story deals with themes from Shakespeare. Thus implied by the tittle. In this story Dinesen has written about her own Ariel and Prospero.

When I was reading "Seven Gothic Tales" I kept thinking about J.S. LeFanu's "Green Tea". I would have to say the most LeFanuesque story in "Seven" was "The Monkey". I wonder if Dinesen used "Green Tea" as an inspiration or a motivator for her work.

Now I need to keep an eye out for her other writings at my job.

Time to change my reading scenery and head on over to Dicken's England.

Keep on reading everybody.
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North Of Unknown By Randall Silvis

The other day I was at the library looking at travel books to find some interesting narratives. I found one and it has lead me to another set of explorers. These being the explorers of Labrador province up in Canada. So now I have downloaded more eBooks relating to it.

The book I choose was, "North of Unknown, Mina Hubbard's Extraordinary Expedition Into The Labrador Wilderness". It is a dramatized event of a real expedition. The author, Randall Silvis, even says he had to dramatize the events in the beginning acknowledgements. It is the story/account of Mina Hubbard trying to complete her husbands failed exploration from 1903.

In 1905 Mina gathered her team and gear together and set about what her husband Leonidas was unable to complete. The book gave a good introduction as to what she and her team had to face during the voyage. It ranged from bogs, swamps, mosquitos, rapids, and wild animals.

I won't mention anymore about the book because I don't want to spoil it. And as previously mentioned, I have found a new genre to read. I especially like reading about how areas of the world can be changed by man during the course of a century.

Now it's off to read other things.