**spoiler alert** I have an incredibly soft spot for this book. It's not very well plotted or paced and it's beyond sappy, but it's pretty sweet and a**spoiler alert** I have an incredibly soft spot for this book. It's not very well plotted or paced and it's beyond sappy, but it's pretty sweet and a nice change of pace from GLH's romance plots.
The first half of the book tells the story of Victoria Gracen, a wealthy spinster of indeterminate age, and her nephew, Richard. After Richard's poor mother dies, Victoria invites him to come live with, despite the Gracen's having disowned Richard's long-dead father when he married Richard's mother. Richard soon comes to love his aunt, and Victoria, who loves him as a son, starts up a group for his new friends, a bunch of boys who were previously thought of as troublemakers.
The second half of the book tells the story of Victoria and Wayne Forrest, one of Richard's friends whose father is in jail for forgery. His family is disgraced and cast out by the well-to-do folk, and Wayne in particular is targeted by notorious gossip Lydia Bypath, who was formerly a good friend of Ms. Gracen's. Richard and the other boys mostly disappear halfway into the novel, and the story changes focus to Wayne's being accepted by and forgiving Ms. Bypath and, by extension, the rest of the town.
The group/club which Ms. Gracen forms in this novel is a sort of after-church Bible club, with Christian stories and wholesome amusements, so and a lot of the character growth revolves towards the boys simultaneously becoming better young men and more religious in their personal lives. Naturally, the story involves a lot of Christian themes and allegory, but, unlike some of GLH's other books, it's not overwhelming and fits in fairly well with the plot. Besides, the religion here seems to be more 'be a good person and behave according to the ethics/morality of Christianity' (which I can respect, despite having deconverted ages ago) than 'say the magic prayer and good things and Heaven and you'll be a perfect person!' which is irritating as it tends to chop out all character post-conversion.
This book was one of my favorite comfort reads when I was a kid, and, though I no longer agree with Hill's religious views, this is one of the books where her theology doesn't overwhelm the plot or characters. Plus, no one falls in love overnight after bonding over how awesome Jesus is and how awful unsaved people are, which is a refreshing change. As a cheesy, feel-good book with a happy-ever-after ending, it works really well....more
This is a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad book. My issues with it are threefold: first, the main female character, Gillian Guthrie, is an enfeebThis is a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad book. My issues with it are threefold: first, the main female character, Gillian Guthrie, is an enfeebled idiot. Her backstory is that she's an orphan whose dead father was well off. When her mother dies and her evil uncle tells her that her father's money was lost in an investment, she immediately believes him despite having been warned that he's untrustworthy, takes her five-year-old brother and runs off to the city. She works herself broke in order to pay off her mother's hospital bills - to the point where she often goes hungry. Eventually, she passes out at her office from exhaustion and bad nutrition and thereafter spends a week in the hospital and is still all tuckered out for plot reasons. Throughout the book, she's incredibly meek and doesn't do a whole lot of anything except cry a lot: in happiness, in excitement, due to worrying, just because. She's incredibly weepy and helpless for someone who is often lauded by the other characters for being strong and awesome.
Secondly, the hero of this story, Reuben Remington, has an incredibly sketchy name and is a total weirdo. Despite being a fairly lapsed Christian, he reacts in shock - shock! - at being invited to a house party and asked to take part in a play. Because plays are evil? Or something. He has the same dislike of makeup and nail polish (crimson nails are the sign of a woman of loose morals) despite them being fairly mainstream by the time these novels were written. Reuben Remington, moreover, is constantly judging women for being too forward or 'bold' and comparing them to Gillian, who is, as previously mentioned, basically a barnacle who needs to be carried all over the place lest she tire herself walking a few feet.
The third, and most memorable reason for this book's badness, is Gillian's little brother, a five-year-old named Noel. Noel is kind of like a little robot; a plot-sensitive robot. Noel goes from speaking in broken, little-kid speech (mistaking is for was, for example) to basically spouting spoken-word poetry with perfect grammar(including the word 'cunning' used correctly) depending on whether it's better for a plot point that he look cute and innocent or wise beyond his years. His sister has him indoctrinated so that almost every other word from his mouth has to do with God, and he basically never misbehaves or acts out, despite being under significant stress and having to suddenly adapt to new environments/living situations.
In short, this book is chock full of preachiness, flaw-free characters, and unlikely situations. It's really not one of Grace Livingston Hill's better outings....more
By Way of the Silverthorns is pretty much a straight-up list of Grace Livingston’s Hill’s favorite tropes: pure, cultured young Christian women who beBy Way of the Silverthorns is pretty much a straight-up list of Grace Livingston’s Hill’s favorite tropes: pure, cultured young Christian women who bear up gracefully against calamities, painted, uncultured flappers to serve as objects of scorn, sudden orphans, elopements, sickly parents who need nurses, young ladies who suddenly are thrust into caring for wild siblings, rich young men who do good work in slums, old houses that seem like crosses between paradise and a nostalgia shop, and wild young women who suddenly convert to Christianity and immediately cease their wild ways (such as wearing makeup and dancing). All that’s missing is a rich relative suddenly dying and leaving a beleaguered family a comfortable old house. It’s not exactly high literature.
That said, it’s not the most awful book either. It’s considerably more preachy than some of GLH’s other stories, or at least written such that the preachy bits are considerably more obvious. The plot sort of wanders all over the place; it’s really more a set of vignettes and short stories, with quite a few important developments being glossed over or happening offscreen.
The novel takes place over several weeks, during and after a wedding attended by a group of friends, most of whom have known each other since childhood. Much of the drama of the novel centers around Erminie “Minnie” Lazarelle, a spoiled young woman who crashes the wedding. After converting to Christianity, she sets out to change her ways but has to contend with a deeply ill stepmother and a gaggle of young, unruly siblings, one of whom has run away and gets Luther Waite, a millionaire businessman who spends his free time preaching to homeless men and dislikes Erminie. Also featured is a sort of milquetoast love triangle between McRae Silverthorn (McRae. Her first name is McRae. Wtf), a modest young woman, and two brothers whom she grew up with – Curlin, a steady dude, and Steve, who secretly goes to nightclubs and associates with women who drink and wear makeup and gaudy clothing. You can pretty much see all the plot twists coming – GLH isn’t exactly subtle, especially here – but it’s not unenjoyable to see most of the main characters pair up and get a happy ending.
The preaching is quite heavy handed in this one: characters will suddenly start pontificating to their unsaved acquaintances and keep going for pages, but it’s pretty easy to skip over (seriously, just flip past all the paragraphs with ‘Thous’ and ‘Dosts’ and lots of capitalized words in the middle of sentences and you’re gold). As far as sexism and other issues go, this particular outing isn’t especially offensive: GLH is a bit patronizing about the poor/homeless, Erminie ends up with a good man to take care of her even though she was doing pretty fine herself, and anyone who partakes in drinking, dancing, or dressing up a lot/wearing makeup and partying either changes their ways or gets shut out, but most of the points are gently made (except that last one. Seriously, if you don’t spend most of your free time singing hymns and praying, or you like to play golf on Sundays you’re A HEATHEN and good Christian boys will want nothing to do with you). Given that it’s a GLH novel, it’s pretty much par for the course, and, aside from the occasionally overwhelming preachiness, it does alright for a comfort/nostalgia read. ...more
**spoiler alert** This is a book with one of Grace Livingston Hill's most obnoxious heroines. The eponymous Marigold is a young schoolteacher who live**spoiler alert** This is a book with one of Grace Livingston Hill's most obnoxious heroines. The eponymous Marigold is a young schoolteacher who lives with her mother since her father, a minister, died. She has recently taken up with Laurie Trescott, a young rich lazy dude who appears to spend his days bumming about and his evenings partying and flirting with girls who wear lots of makeup (of which GLH was clearly not fond). Marigold, of course, is entirely oblivious to his boozing ways (mostly because, until it's convenient for the plot, he seems to be mainly a social drinker with no serious alcohol issues until suddenly he's a Raging Drunk). During a weekend trip with her mother to Washington, D.C. to visit her aunt, Marigold meets a handsome young engineer named Ethan Bevan, and the plot thereafter devolves into Ethan being a smooth talker, Laurie being a drunk sleazebag who'll stop at nothing to get Marigold, and Marigold being a chick who faints when reminded of nightmares and panics a lot.
For a novel with high speed kidnappings, almost-forced-weddings, and overnight parties of degeneracy, Marigold is pretty dull. At one point, it literally takes GLH two paragraphs to describe a character opening a car door. Marigold, your hero, is helpless and dull, and the romance is contrived and happens almost overnight (though, to be fair, GLH does this same thing in other books and occasionally manages to pull it off). This is not the most preachy GLH novel out there, but it's close, and it seems GLH was at the height of her 'say the magic words and everything will suddenly go well and you'll go to Heaven!' theological stage. Aside from all this, the story is bookended with some nasty, gratuitous racism concerning a black servant which leaves an even worse taste in your mouth.
Overall, I really wouldn't recommend this book - even to GLH fans. ...more
I enjoyed this, but I wish it had been better paced. The resolution of the case seems to come all at once, and the main character spends a lot more tiI enjoyed this, but I wish it had been better paced. The resolution of the case seems to come all at once, and the main character spends a lot more time lounging around at home than I would have expected. Further, the mystery itself wasn't that great. The characters were pretty neat though, and the writing is nice enough that I don't regret buying it :)....more
The first of four I got for my birthday :D, I really enjoyed this one. I had a problem with some racism in it (unnecessary, though brief, exotificatioThe first of four I got for my birthday :D, I really enjoyed this one. I had a problem with some racism in it (unnecessary, though brief, exotification of black women, plus the main character is somewhat xenophobic), but otherwise it was quite well-written, and the mystery sucked you in. I got into Wallander through the British tv series, so I was a bit surprised by the differences between the two, but it was good in its own right. ...more
Honestly, I hadn't expected this novel to be as good as it was. I have a weakness for Austen profic, but I usually don't *buy* it, getting it at the lHonestly, I hadn't expected this novel to be as good as it was. I have a weakness for Austen profic, but I usually don't *buy* it, getting it at the library or wherever instead. But, hey, birthday :). Anyway, this one was surprisingly well-written! A lot of Austen spinoffs just chuck in gratuitous sex scenes and make the female characters weaker/better fitting the Romance fiction archetype, but this did neither, generally, and I found it plausible enough, with good reasons for its AU turn....more