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I have never read these and now I either desperately want to or feel that I don't need to since your liveblogging of the book is so splendiferous. Hah! Stressing about the dress! I feel like I HAVE read it, aren't the girls in these books always stressing about their dresses? I think there's something about that in Anne of Green Gables, too.

Oh! Hey! Another crabby wheelchair-using character, in a contemporary book called Saffy's Angel, by Hilary McKay. It's British and the title character, early in the book, gets knocked over ON PURPOSE by the "wheelchair girl," Sarah, who lives up the road, b/c she's pissed that Saffy and her (chaotic artistic and messed-up but still loving) family have seen her rolling past for years & years & never talked to her. So Sarah & Saffy become friends and Sarah is a brilliant hellion who's so determined to not be a good angelic disabled child that she's gotten herself kicked out of the private school where her MOM is the principal, and then she helps Saffy with this crazy plan she has to run away to Italy, and that is all I will tell you. Except that there are five books and Sarah's in all of them, and she gets ever cooler and hotter but I am pissed at McKay that she didn't get her own book.

I can't believe I never thought to tell you about this book.

Probably you have read it already, but just in case.


OMG! I need that! Thank you! No, i've never seen the Saffy books and I must have them immediately!

Anne of Green Gables freaks out over puffed sleeves - which were all the fashion in her school - but which waste fabric. Ruth didn't even have the money for a basic ugly dress! I was also reminded of Elnora in Girl of the Limberlost. In the later books, Ruth is much more cool, calm, and collected -- it's only this one that she thinks about dresses and spelling bees and cries all the time. Her focus becomes kind of an obsession with becoming financially independent of Uncle Jabez rather than making him love her. "Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures" is my favorite one because she starts getting paid! Up till then it's more about solving mysteries and finding the lost necklace, etc.


I am leastconcern from dot_gimp_snark, and I saw your post, commented, came here. I think I have a crush on you, and your brain.

I thought I was the only geek that picked out the racism of old books.


Heee! *blush* Come over to girlycon!


I love the first book in which Mercy meets up with Ruth's cranky uncle & they have the best time complaining bitterly indoors together.


The RFSB Awards are back- get your nominations in!

Cher Swanson

Now it suddenly makes sense why the novels seemed so totally different from one to the next!

Mercy is one of my favorite characters of all time.


I love the victorian/edwardian boys and girls tales - when of course the Welsh girl turns out to be the thief (unless it is the girl who is secretly half italian - except they use the D word instead). And you can tell who had virtue by how well they play cricket or other games.

Wilkie Collins helped Dickens along with the evil uncle, yet reading the plot I am reminded how similar they are to Nancy Drew plot lines of her early works (at least we had George to save Nancy from herself). And yes, how can we have a story with some gypsies and/or male who drinks too much and has children in the poorhouse?

Thanks for the review - I remember the fab five mock cartoon on one of the crit lit prof's door, "Oh, are we really off to ANOTHER middle class adventure, what joy!" - Yet they really are quite addicting, particularly when told well, and often have the strangest titles.

It is refreshing to read of a world where someone (gosh, golly!) LYING is seen to be both bad but also an unusually behavoir.


i found the red mill book when my neighbor threw it away, it is an original from 1913, anyway it sure looks like it. thanks for the review

Mick Allen

Another fascinating precursor to the Nancy Drew et al school of girls'/juvenile "mystery" literature is Augusta Huiell Seaman, who started in 1919 with historical stories aimed at girls but went on to write some wonderful books(she wrote over 40) with a contemporary mystery theme, usually relating to a previous historical period. In this way she taught a bit of history, and also used unusual settings (a Florida phosphate mine, the New Jersey coast etc.) to add a little geography. However, don't let this put you off, her best stories are well plotted, vivid, and have amazingly spunky girl protagonists (usually in pairs) for the period. True, there's some racism and classism, but it would be anachronistic if there wasn't, and in a book like "The Stars of Sabra" the eponymous Sabra is a slave girl who saved the diary at the centre of the contemporary story.
As her books come out of copyright they are being put free on line by Project Gutenberg, and in new cheap printings by the Dodo Press. Read Christine Volk's appreciation on bookfever.com (apart from a short Wiki entry about the only information online about her - there isn't even an extant photograph available), and I think you'll see what a treasure the world is missing.

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