This week’s reading round up is a tale of the bad and the good.
The bad? One of the Elsie Lees from the roommate care package, Star of Danger.
I’ve noticed in the past that when Elsie Lee is good, she’s very very good. Then there are the other books. My college roommate and I just call those “the bad Elsie Lees”. They’re their own special category. We’ve noticed that there are structural distinctions. The good Elsie Lees, as a rule, tend to be written in the first person; the bad Elsie Lees (Roommates, The Passions of Medora Graeme) tend to be in the third. They also tend to involve sexually domineering heroes and heroines who are far more push over than the usual run of spunky Elsie Lee girls. They’re fascinating as cultural artifacts, but abrasive to modern sensibilities.
Now I understand why the book came with a sticky on it saying “You can keep this one”. (In contrast to Ivorstone Manor and Mistress of Mount Fair, which came with stickies on them saying “I want this one back”.)
So that was the bad. Now for the good: Joanna Bourne’s The Black Hawk.
I’m on a panel with Joanna Bourne tomorrow, so it seemed time to catch up on her books. Why did I wait so long? Run, do not walk, to get a copy of this book. She weaves the relationship of a French and an English spy, going back from 1818 to trace the trajectory of their relationship through the terrifying days at the end of the Terror, the relative calm of the Consulate, and Napoleon’s imperial wars. It’s beautifully done. Now I have to go back and read her The Forbidden Rose, which I have, shamefully, also let languish on my shelf.
What have you been reading?