The Invisible Chimes by Margaret Sutton

The Invisible Chimes

Information

Goodreads: The Invisible Chimes
Series: Judy Bolton #3
Source: Library
Published: 1932

Summary

When Judy Bolton meets a strange girl who cannot seem to remember her own name, Judy is determined to find out her identity. At first, she wants to help the girl she has named “Honey.” But Honey was found in the company of thieves. Could it be she is not telling the truth about her past?

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Review

The third book in Margaret Sutton’s Judy Bolton series continues the adventures of teenage Judy as she attends high school and solves mysteries in her spare time. In this episode, Judy meets a mysterious girl who seemingly cannot remember her identity. Judy names the girl “Honey” and is determined to figure out where she comes from, so she can notify the girl’s presumably worried parents. As with the previous books in the series, the mystery is rather formulaic and thus easy to solve. However, that familiarity is part of what gives the series its charms. The Invisible Chimes will delight readers who enjoy serialized mystery stories like Nancy Drew.

For me, serialized mystery series like the Judy Bolton books are comfort reads. They follow a predictable pattern and often present mysteries that rely on incredible coincidences, meaning the protagonist can wrap up two seemingly unrelated cases at once, by the end of the book. So far, the Judy Bolton books have followed this formula, allowing Judy repeatedly to connect people and places that ought not to be connected at all. It’s a little unbelievable, of course, but it’s also comforting to know that, by the end of the story, everything will be resolved. Families will be reunited, lost property restored, and justice done. Sometimes one just needs a book where everything comes out all right.

This series is also fun because Judy is not a static character, but one who grows over the course of the series. She’s still in high school in book three, but so far she has already moved towns, changed schools, integrated herself into elite society, and caught the attention of two men, both of whom are subtly vying for her affections. While Judy’s personal life does not get as much attention in this book as it has in previous installments, readers can rest assured that she will continue to face personal problems that make her come to life as a protagonist.

The Invisible Chimes is well worth a read for those who enjoy books of this nature. And the best part is that there are over thirty more books to come! So readers who enjoy Judy can continue to watch her grow up and take life head on.

4 stars

An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

Information

Goodreads: An Old-Fashioned Girl
Series: None
Source: Owned
Published: 1869

Summary

Fourteen-year-old Polly Milton visits her friend Fanny Shaw in the city, where she is impressed by Fanny’s fashionable lifestyle. However, she also feels that Fanny and her friends judge her for her “countrified” manners and clothing. Over the next six years, Polly keeps visiting the Shaws, until the day she moves into the city to earn her living as a music teacher. She realizes that many of the Shaws’ old set will no longer speak to her, since she is now a working woman. But when the Shaws face financial adversity, Polly will be there to help teach them that a loving family is the greatest wealth of all.

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Review

Louisa May Alcott’s An Old-Fashioned Girl will feel familiar to fans of Little Women. Once again, Alcott chronicles the coming-of-age of a young woman who realizes that riches do not equal happiness, and who finds her own contentment in serving others and forming part of a loving family. Alcott’s vivid characters, however, with their many foibles, prevent the story from becoming sickeningly sweet or overly didactic. Instead, what readers get is one girl’s personal journey made utterly engrossing by the way in which Alcott tells it.

Even though centuries may separate readers and the protagonist Polly, Polly’s worries about wanting to fit in, wanting to be appreciated, and wanting to be admired, still ring true. Her journey thus becomes a journey that readers can not only go along with, but also one that they can use to reflect on their own. An Old-Fashioned Girl will appeal to fans of Alcott, but also readers who enjoy a good, old-fashioned story where the drama is limited, but the characters make everyday moments feel just as interesting and important.

Some readers may feel put off by Polly’s values. She remains dedicated to dressing and living simply even as she witnesses the extravagances of her rich friends. She also thinks it wrong to flirt for fun, because she could end up hurting a man who takes her advances seriously. She believes it is important to love and support her family, and she values those relationships more than she values her own comforts. For some modern readers, Polly may seem like nothing more than a prudish, subjugated girl who does not know how to have fun. Behind the outward gestures like simple clothes, however, is real conviction. Polly knows who she is and what she wants. She does not need her friends or high society to tell her how to be happy because she already is.

Alcott’s work makes it clear that, even in her day, there was some concern that outward appearances were taking precedence over true happiness and that people, worried about keeping up with their neighbors, were actually making themselves miserable. Even if readers do not agree with Polly that avoiding unnecessary expenses and keeping house for their brother can help them discern what they truly value, the main idea of looking inward for contentment instead of chasing the latest fads can still ring true. An Old-Fashioned Girl thus combines a delightful story with a thought-provoking question, “What really makes us happy? And do we have the courage to chase it, even when society will laugh at us for it?”

5 stars

I Will Repay by Baroness Orczy

Information

Goodreads: I Will Repay
Series: Scarlet Pimpernel Publication Order #2 (Chronological #3)
Source: Library
Published: 1906

Summary

Ten years ago, Juliette Marny swore an oath to ruin the man who killed her brother. But then she falls in love with her sworn enemy. Can she risk her soul–and that of her brother’s–to protect the man she loves?

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Review

This melodramatic sequel to The Scarlet Pimpernel is just the kind of high stakes, over-the-top drama I expect from a Baroness Orczy title. Young Juliette Marny has sworn an oath to her now-dead father to avenge the death of her brother by ruining the man who took his life. But, when she meets the man, Paul Déroulède, ten years later, she unexpectedly finds him to be a good man–one whom she loves. Juliette then has to decide. Is it right to be the cause of a good man’s death? Is it wrong to break an oath sworn to God Himself? I Will Repay is a riveting story, sure to please readers who enjoy a book that never takes itself too seriously.

The plot of I Will Repay is all very contrived, of course, and perhaps modern readers will not feel as strongly as Juliette the gravity of breaking an oath that so obviously seems perverse. However, Orczy tries to let readers into the mind of Juliette, suggesting that her youth, combined with a Catholic fervency, has primed Juliette to be extremely impressionable, especially to heighted emotions and circumstances. She has sworn an oath that asks her brother’s soul never to find peace if she does not ruin the man who killed him. Naturally, if she believes this oath to be true, she will be hesitant to break it, even for the man she loves.

Juliette’s battling emotions are the backdrop against which the story is set, and they find a fitting counterpart in the heightened emotions following the French Revolution. The country has essentially been given over to mob rule, and Juliette and Paul must figure out how to offend no one, even though their wealth and lineage mark them as prime enemies of the state. Their balancing act adds yet another layer of drama to the story, and sets the stage for the entrance of the Scarlet Pimpernel, that bold Englishman who snatches men and women from the jaws of the guillotine.

Readers who enjoy Sir Percy may be disappointed to find that he plays only a small role in I Will Repay, but, for me, the focus on new characters is part of what makes the story interesting. Juliette and Paul’s little drama somewhat mirrors that of Percy’s and Marguerite’s in the first book. Orczy loves a star-crossed romance, and she truly puts Paul’s love to the test as he must decide whether the woman who betrayed his trust is worthy of forgiveness. This journey proves important for the story, however, which can read as a little dated with its depiction of men and women. Juliette’s fall from grace serves to take Juliette down from the pedestal Paul has placed her on and show her to be a living, breathing human with flaws.

Baroness Orczy specializes in dramatic action stories, where everything seems just a little over the top. However, her ability to write dynamic characters, combined with a fast-paced plot full of danger and romance makes her storytelling absolutely riveting. Some may find the gender stereotypes depicted off-putting. However, if one is willing to accept that Orczy was writing in a different historical context, her instinct for drama is second to none.

4 stars

Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym

Some Tame Gazelle

Information

Goodreads: Some Tame Gazelle
Series: None
Source: Borrowed
Published: 1950

Official Summary

Barbara Pym is a master at capturing the subtle mayhem that takes place in the apparent quiet of the English countryside. Fifty-something sisters Harriet and Belinda Bede live a comfortable, settled existence. Belinda, the quieter of the pair, has for years been secretly in love with the town’s pompous (and married) archdeacon, whose odd sermons leave members of his flock in muddled confusion. Harriet, meanwhile, a bubbly extrovert, fends off proposal after proposal of marriage. The arrival of Mr. Mold and Bishop Grote disturb the peace of the village and leave the sisters wondering if they’ll ever return to the order of their daily routines. Some Tame Gazelle, first published in Britain nearly 50 years ago, was the first of Pym’s nine novels.

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Review

Some Tame Gazelle is one of those lovely classics that don’t seem to be “about” anything in particular, yet are so interesting and insightful when it comes to the lives of the characters and the place they live in, that one falls headfirst into the story.

I know if I were ever to write a book, it would need to be one strongly centered around a plot; there would be a quest or something particular the characters were doing that would tie the book together. I love books like Anne of Green Gables that are difficult to summarize because they’re not about one major plot point; they’re just about the characters’ lives. I think these books must be among the hardest to write and to write well because they rely so much on the author’s being able to write compelling characterization and make insightful remarks about human nature. Barbara Pym, like some of the great authors before her, excels at this.

The back of my copy of Some Tame Gazelle says the book is about “unrequited love,” which I think is as specific as one can get– but, of course, that’s a theme more than a plot point. Pym explores that theme with sensitivity and clarity, however, offering readers a range of characters who do (or not) experience romantic love: one woman who has quietly loved her friend (now married to another woman) for decades, a man who keeps asking another woman to marry him and being confused, a woman dreaming about men she hasn’t seen for years only to find they’ve changed. The beauty of the novel is that I have practically nothing in common with these people (the main characters are two unmarried women in their mid-fifties), but I see life through their eyes and understand.

And there are small moments, the quiet moments of life that Pym excels at noting and celebrating, that truly make the characters “relatable.” In one scene, for instance, one of the protagonists is thinking contentedly about how she has chose the correct shoes for an occasion, only for her sister to off-handedly remark she had always found that style of shoes a bit frumpy. The protagonist then goes off to her event, uncomfortably aware now that she is wearing dowdy shoes. I’m probably a bit young to feel “dowdy,” but I think many of us can relate a bit to suddenly becoming conscious of being unfashionable or not wearing the right thing, yet stuck wearing it anyway, sure in the back of our minds that everyone must be noticing. These seemingly insignificant scenes — such as a character wearing uncool shoes — are where Pym skillfully gets into and portrays the human mind.

Finally, I enjoyed the absurd amount of literary quotations and allusions in the book. There’s a particular respect for Middle English texts, which is so unusual that I couldn’t help but love it, as I, too, enjoy medieval texts. Characters even admire other characters for their knowledge of Middle English literature. Wild. Now, I am fairly certain that some of the literary quotations (which are from a variety of literary eras) are there a bit to poke fun at the characters (some, for instance, quote texts constantly but haven’t read much since college and seem to be a bit too much invested in reliving their glory days as undergrads rather than living in the present), but I still found it impressive how many were worked into the novel, and I appreciated them simply because I appreciate classics.

This is only the second Barbara Pym novel I’ve read, after Excellent Women, but I think she’s becoming a new favorite author of mine.

Briana
5 stars

My Favorite Classic Mystery Writers (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

WHAT IS CLASSIC REMARKS?

Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.

HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?

Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)

THIS WEEK’S PROMPT:

Who are are some of your favorite classic mystery authors?

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I admit, I don’t read nearly as many mysteries as I’d like to, and when I try modern mysteries, they’re a bit hit-or-miss, so the two main classic mysteries writers I’m familiar with are the obvious: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. (Ok, I’ve also read The Maltese Falcon, which was quite good.)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Who doesn’t love Sherlock Holmes? Countless adaptations and retellings have been created, from films to graphic novels to YA series, yet the original books still charm. I do find Doyle’s work somewhat frustrating in that some of the mysteries are solvable by the read, while others are not; Holmes swoops in at the last minute with an explanation of how he did a bunch of detective work and made a number of calls off-page. Yet the stories are still interesting, and I’m certainly looking forward to reading more of them in the future.

Agatha Christie

It’s obvious why she’s been called “The Queen of Mystery.” She was extremely prolific, and all of her works that I’ve read so far have delivered excellent, twisty mysteries that I couldn’t guess the endings of. (I’d say I’m just really awful at solving mysteries, which is possible, but I seem to be able to predict the endings of a lot of modern mysteries, so Christie definitely has a stronger talent for surprise culprits than many other authors I’ve encountered).

So far I’ve enjoyed: Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, Death Comes As the End, Midwinter Murders, At Bertram’s Hotel, and The Secret Adversary.

What Romantic Classic Should You Read? (Flow Chart)

MORE ABOUT THESE CLASSICS

*Click the book titles to read full reviews.

You can find more flow charts with reading recommendations here:


Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym

If unrequited love is more your mood than passionate romance right now, Some Tame Gazelle may be the book for you. Read about the protagonist’s unreturned flame for a now-married friend, her sister who’s been proposed to by the same man multiple times because she keeps refusing him, and all the other delightfully realistic inhabitants of their small town.

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Belinda by Maria Edgeworth

You thought I was going to recommend a Jane Austen novel for a Regency romance, didn’t you? However, everyone knows about Austen…but do they know about Maria Edgeworth? Her novel Belinda features a seventeen-year-old protagonist looking for marriage and was known by Jane Austen herself.

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Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer

A classic love story that has been told and retold (Shakespeare wrote a play, too), featuring star-crossed lovers during the Siege of Troy. If you thought Chaucer only wrote The Canterbury Tales, you’ll be pleased and surprised by the nuance with which he tells the story of Troilus and Cressida and how they fall in love and experience tragedy.

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Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

You probably read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in high school, but have you read it recently? Now is a great time to experience this classic tragedy all over again, looking at it with fresh eyes. And maybe relishing the ending if you’re not really in the mood to think happily ever afters tend to work out. It’s a romance and an anti-romance all in one!

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The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery may be best known for writing Anne of Green Gables (and book three, Anne of the Island, is pretty romantic, as well!), but The Blue Castle is a beautiful, rather overlooked novel that anyone who wants a light story about unexpected love will enjoy.

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SHIRLEY BY CHARLOTTE BRONTË 

One of my favorite college professors recommended this book as “one of the most romantic novels she’d ever read,” and it’s so true and so overlooked due to most people’s focus on Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I do think the book opens a bit slowly, but once it gets going, it’s immersive. It would also pair well with reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, due to the focus on the mill and labor issues (still romantic, though!).

Movie Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Movie Shoes

Information

Goodreads: Movie Shoes
Series: Shoes #6 (companion to Ballet Shoes)
Source: Library
Published: 1949

Summary

The Winter family has been having a rough time ever since dad’s accident. Rachel hopes to get a part in a ballet to help earn money. Tim just wants to be taught piano by a famous pianist. And Jane? She’s known as the plain, untalented member of the family. So when Aunt Cora invites the family to California, Rachel and Tim are somewhat distressed about losing their chances in England, but also hopeful the can become stars in America. But it’s undesirable Jane who lands the lead role of Mary Lennox in a movie adaptation of The Secret Garden.

Review

Noel Streatfeild is perhaps best known for writing the story of the Fossil sisters in Ballet Shoes, but she also published a number of other children’s books, many of them renamed with “Shoe” titles later to capitalize on the success of the Fossils. Movie Shoes, for instance, was originally titled The Painted Garden. However, aside from a small appearance by Posy and Pauline Fossil, the book is only related to Ballet Shoes insofar that it features, like many of Streatfeild’s books, children aspiring for careers on the stage.

Movie Shoes feels a little more realistic, however, because it focuses on Jane, the acknowledged “plain” one of the three Winter children, and the only one not to demonstrate a remarkable talent for the arts. Jane’s family view her as ill-tempered and disagreeable–but no wonder! Her parents seem emotionally distant and the children’s nanny keeps reminding Jane that not everyone can be talented, but everyone can be good. Perhaps Jane’s family could not stand her, but I found her the most interesting character in the book, especially when contrasted with her older sister Rachel (who has a tendency to be overly proud of her skills) and Tim (whose main delight is playing pranks).

The story becomes really interesting when overlooked Jane lands the starring role of Mary Lennox in a film adaptation of The Secret Garden. Her family immediately dismisses her, saying she cannot act, and Rachel begins to get jealous. However, the fact is that Jane landed the role because her ill temper so remarkably matches that of Mary at the beginning of the book. So the challenge for Jane becomes to find a way to not be disagreeable–something for her that seems almost impossible. (But, again, who can blame her when her family will not even support her the first time something incredible happens to her?) Her attempts at personal transformation are what gives the story its heart. She’s not just trying to become famous. She’s trying to become a better person.

Aside from Theater Shoes, which relies too heavily on retelling the plot of Ballet Shoes, I have immensely enjoyed all of Streatfeild’s Shoes books. She has a real gift for characterization, as well as for illuminating the lives of children trying to start their own careers, usually on the stage. Movie Shoes was yet another delightful read for me. I hope to read more of Streatfeild soon!

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More Shoes Books

The Haunted Attic by Margaret Sutton

The Haunted Attic

Information

Goodreads: The Haunted Attic
Series: Judy Bolton #2
Source: Library
Published: 1932

Summary

The Boltons move into a new house, reported to be haunted, and ]udy is determined to solve the mystery before her Halloween party. But can she and her brother be brave enough to deal with the spirit who walks the attic?

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Review

The Haunted Attic continues the adventures of teenage sleuth Judy Bolton, a heroine who originally appeared in the 1930s, as a sort of counterpart to Nancy Drew. However, unlike Nancy, Judy is known for aging over the course of the series and her books have been noted by fans as being somewhat more socially conscious. The Haunted Attic provides fans of serial mystery stories with a comfortably predictable pattern, while engaging them with an emphasis on Judy’s social and familial relationships.

Part of the charm of the Judy Bolton books so far is that Judy spends a lot of time interacting with her brother Horace and her physician father, as well as worrying about her friends and school life. This book sees Judy navigating the perils of a new high school. While she longs to fit in and be popular, she makes enemies of a mean girl early on, and finds that her friendship with one of the town’s richest girls is causing jealousy. While Nancy Drew seems to be universally loved by all, Judy’s experience of high school is so awful that she begins to wonder if she should leave. This adds a bit of realism and relatability to a book that otherwise can strain credulity with its romantic mystery elements.

Also notable is the book’s attempts at social commentary. Judy clearly longs to be popular and to move in the upper-class set. However, she simultaneously does not hesitate to call out that set when they say things that disparage the working-class girls at the mill. Still, Judy has to work hard to uphold her own ideals when she realizes that associating with the mill girls could mean losing her friends at school. Her beliefs threaten to clash with practice when she has to decide whom to invite to her Halloween party.

While trying to be a normal high school girl, Judy is, of course, also determined to solve the mystery of her haunted house. In this respect, she does seem a little more passive than Nancy. She lives in the house in question, so basically all she needs to do is make a foray into the attic now and then, and question the chief of police about what he knows. Her brother Horace actually ends up solving the bulk of the mystery, which is disappointing.

Still, the Judy Bolton mysteries are a pleasant read. The mysteries so far have been easy to solve, following neat patterns where several seemingly unrelated problems are ultimately shown to be part one of overarching case. Readers will solve the clues long before Judy, but there’s something comforting about knowing the formula and watching Judy try to figure it out, too. I’ll definitely be ordering book three from the library.

4 stars

A Spooky Classic I Recommend: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

WHAT IS CLASSIC REMARKS?

Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.

HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?

Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)

THIS WEEK’S PROMPT:

Recommend a Spooky Classic

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This post assumes some basic knowledge of The Phantom of the Opera and so contains minor spoilers if you have not seen the movie/musical or read the book.

I don’t read many “spooky” books because I don’t actually like being scared, but a few of the obvious ones came to mind for this post: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Vampyre by John Polidori, anything by Edgar Allan Poe, maybe an Agatha Christie mystery. However, some of these choices, so common to “scary classics” list, are not very scary in my opinion (and, remember, I’m scared of everything). Frankenstein, for instance, is more a musing on life and death and the ethics of science and a variety of other philosophical questions than a frightening monster story. Thus, when I saw this prompt, I knew I had to pick a book that truly had me on the edge of my seat, frightening for the characters and chilled by the story:

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.

If you’ve only seen the movie/musical, you likely think the story is a bit dark but not necessary scary (hence, a previous Classic Remarks prompt about whether the story is romantic). The novel is really much more frightening, and I give it a lot of credit for keeping me variously enthralled/appalled even though I already knew the general plot from having seen the movie!

Leroux’s Phantom (or Opera Ghost) is a terrifying presence only looking out for himself and his own desires. He knows the Opera like the back of his hand and can move, unseen, at will, spying, taking things, leaving things, etc. There are scenes where Christine is constantly looking around, turning to watch behind her, certain every shadow is the Opera Ghost coming for her, and it’s incredibly tense. The Opera Ghost also has power over the managers of the Opera, who bend to his will; otherwise, terrible things happen.

And it’s those terrible things that largely contribute to the scare factor here. People who displease the Opera Ghost or get too close his secrets have terrible accidents; sometimes they die. I think the movie/musical really glosses over this, how cold the Opera Ghost is and how murdering a few people here and there means nothing to him. He also has a literal torture room installed near his rooms under the Opera, which the movie conveniently leaves out.

Most chilling, I think, however, is the scene where Raoul and the Persian go to rescue Christine, and in the dark places under the Opera, the Persian instructs Raoul to keep his arm up near eye level, bent as though he were holding a pistol. Holding his arm like this is, the Persian insists, a matter of life or death. It isn’t for a while that the readers (and Raoul) come to realize this is to keep the Opera Ghost from sneaking up on them and tossing nooses around their necks. Imagining Raoul and the Persian hunting about in the dark, waiting for someone to murder them, knowing they might breathe their last if they lowered their arms for just a second had me cold.

So if you want a dark, chilling story that will keep you turning the pages this Halloween season (or any season), I highly recommend The Phantom of the Opera.

Briana

The Vanishing Shadow by Margaret Sutton

The Vanishing Shadow

Information

Goodreads: The Vanishing Shadow
Series: Judy Bolton #1
Source: Library
Published: 1932

Summary

When her parents go to the seaside, fifteen-year-old Judy Bolton anticipates a few boring weeks on her grandparents’ farm. Then she overhears a strange conversation about the new Roulsville dam. The workers will go to any length to keep Judy silent. Can she uncover the mystery surrounding the dam and warn everyone before it’s too late?

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Review

I initially picked up The Vanishing Shadow because I had read that the Judy Bolton series was a wonderful selection for readers who enjoy Nancy Drew. And Judy has the additional interest of actually aging over the course of her 38-book series, unlike Nancy. Apparently the books were also popular in their own day; the back of my copy states that over 5 million books were sold between 1932 and 1967 and that “the series holds the distinction of being the longest lasting juvenile series written by a single author.” This all made Judy sound very interesting.

At first, however, I admit I was a little skeptical. While Nancy tends to be upbeat, confident, friendly, and polite, Judy comes across as more immature and selfish. The book begins with her peeved at having to spend a few weeks at her grandparents’ farm because she anticipates being bored (even though her home is about 15 minutes away by horse, apparently). Her grandmother notes that Judy does little to help around the farm. Judy just keeps naively dreaming of adventure and mystery, even though she does not come across as that smart or likable, to be frank.

And, as the book goes on, Judy keeps expressing shame at her brother Horace’s “cowardice.” His coworkers call him “Sissy” and Judy really buys into the stereotypes about masculinity that her society perpetuates. She repeatedly chastises Horace for not being man enough, contrasting his timidity with her own recklessness. Probably Judy can’t help being alive in the 1930s and being inundated with gendered stereotypes, but she could stop yelling at Horace.

Still, as the book progressed, it and Judy grew on me. I am not entirely sure that Judy did anything particularly intelligent, but she seems brave enough and possibly can grow into her role as detective. I’m willing to give Judy a chance, so I’ve already ordered book two from the library.

3 Stars