Most people would probably regard a lot of the advice in A Guide to Elegance as outdated, since in today's world there are quite literally no set stan...moreMost people would probably regard a lot of the advice in A Guide to Elegance as outdated, since in today's world there are quite literally no set standards at all in fashion; everyone wears what they want—so the rules on wearing certain types of clothes or certain materials in the day or evening, or for city or country wear or specific occasions, no longer apply. But there's a lot of surprisingly useful advice here, on topics such as combinations of colors, and which cut, color and fabric is most flattering to different women's coloring and figures. And there's much food for thought in Dariaux's definitions of what constitutes genuine good taste. Her philosophy emphasizes learning what best suits your individual style, avoiding fashion extremes, focusing on quality over quantity and selecting clothes and accessories that you'll get the maximum amount of wear and pleasure out of. Overall it's a clever, handy little book that provides both an interesting glimpse at the fashion scene of past decades and a good deal of sound common sense regarding clothes in any era.
(As a sidenote, it's wryly amusing, I think, that nearly everything this book categorizes as the height of bad taste and even vulgarity seems to be all the rage at the present day!)(less)
I read this having seen the film adaptation first, but still thoroughly enjoyed the book even thought I knew the solution of the mystery. The movie pr...moreI read this having seen the film adaptation first, but still thoroughly enjoyed the book even thought I knew the solution of the mystery. The movie preserved the same culprit, means and motive, but trimmed away an additional suspect and many extra layers and details of the plot—the characters are more fully developed and vivid in the book. It's a splendid WWII period piece, written in the thick of the blitz when Brand was living near the military hospital where her surgeon husband worked, sharing the nurses' bomb shelter during the air-raids than interrupted her writing. The unique setting and atmosphere are as absorbing as the mystery. I can only guess at how big a surprise the conclusion would have been to me if I hadn't known it going into the book, but now I'm eager to try more of Brand's books and find out.(less)
While not quite as brilliant as the other two Meigs books I've read so far, this is a pleasant story. The character development (particularly of the a...moreWhile not quite as brilliant as the other two Meigs books I've read so far, this is a pleasant story. The character development (particularly of the antagonist, I thought) isn't quite as good as in her later books, but it has the same beautiful descriptive writing. One of the most interesting elements is the series of flashback stories, each taking place around the Windy Hill at a different period in American history, which have apparently no other connection at first, but have the link between them revealed late in the book. The rest of the story seems to be set in the present day (the book was published in 1922), and I almost felt that Meigs was more skilled and perhaps more at home in dealing with historical periods. In these flashbacks, especially, are found what seem to have been some of her favorite themes, the pioneer spirit of vision and hard work that built the new nation of America, which she would develop more fully in later novels.(less)
Sequel to Skyrider. Still entertaining, but I think the first book was better. In some sequels, characters tend to lose their personality or chemistry...moreSequel to Skyrider. Still entertaining, but I think the first book was better. In some sequels, characters tend to lose their personality or chemistry a little, but I don't think that's the case here. It's more that nobody seems to have learned their lessons as implied in the end of Skyrider—Johnny seems more stubborn and Mary V more spoiled. And if taking himself too seriously is Johnny's biggest problem, the way the story winds up doesn't seem calculated to improve that! Bland Halliday's apparent change of heart is a little difficult to swallow too. This is much less of a Western, except in the desert setting of certain parts of the book; it focuses more on the airplane itself and later takes a foray into international intrigue. The glimpse of Los Angeles, San Diego and the surrounding areas circa 1919, when the book was published, is interesting—I just saw an aerial shot of LA during coverage of a sports game, and it's incredibly different from the airplane's-eye view of over ninety years ago.(less)
3.5 stars. I really wanted to like this one better. The first few chapters were charming and looked like a promising set-up for a mystery, but once it...more3.5 stars. I really wanted to like this one better. The first few chapters were charming and looked like a promising set-up for a mystery, but once it got fairly started, it was the way the mystery investigation was handled that frustrated me a bit. Perhaps I've been spoiled a bit by reading so many top-notch Golden Age mysteries. Both Miss Unwin's investigations and Sergeant Drewd's seemed awfully haphazard, each new inquiry prompted by something that had just handily turned up. (And the scene where Miss Unwin thinks and thinks and can't imagine a single possible motive for anybody in the house—good heavens, girl, use your imagination! I could think of thousands!)
And then, I knew who the murderer was right from the scene where the murder was discovered. I didn't know the motive till it was explained later on, but I knew who. Oh, well! The Victorian setting was nicely done, and it's a clean read too, a pleasant surprise for a later (mid-1980s) book. The light old-fashioned style is a nice fit for the era of the story; I actually wouldn't have guessed it was written in the '80s without being told. So if you're looking for a pleasant mystery but don't expect anything too challenging, The Governess is a pretty nice one.
(Incidentally, the Bloomsbury Reader ebook edition is evidently missing a sizeable chunk of conversation near the end of Chapter 15. The gist of it is mentioned in the subsequent chapter, so the only thing you really miss out on is apparently the fleshing out of a supporting character/suspect.)(less)