Islands in the Stream: One man, three places

Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream is a three-part novel. Its sections are connected by characters and settings, but are totally different in tone. The first section, Bimini, introduces Thomas Hudson, a twice-divorced painter living happily with his personal devils by keeping to a rigid schedule for working and drinking. His three sons come to […]

The Barrier contains prejudice, romance, adventure

John Gale watches soldiers building a military post on the Yukon River and thinks, “The trail ends here!” Necia Gale, his daughter, sees Lieutenant Burrell and thinks her trail is just beginning. The Barrier by Rex Beach [Harper’s, 310 pp.] 1908. 1908 bestseller #2. Project Gutenberg ebook #4082. My grade: B. In its first chapter, […]

Predictable plot can’t spoil The Spoilers

An immediate success in 1906, Rex Beach’s The Spoilers seems shopworn today because of its overused romantic plot. But however tired the romance, even today Beach holds readers’ interest with his fast paced, action-adventure plot. The Spoilers by Rex Beach 1906 bestseller #8. Project Gutenberg ebook #5076. My grade: B. Handsome young Roy Glenister and […]

Cinematic Beau Geste buried in novel’s details

The French phrase beau geste refers to a gracious gesture that has unwelcome consequences. It’s an apt title for P. C. Wren’s novel about British orphan lads with the surname Geste. Beau Geste by P[ercival] C[hristopher] Wren J. B. Lippincott. 412 p. 1926 bestseller #7. My grade: C+ Michael “Beau” Geste, a natural leader; his […]

The Hurricane is exciting while it lasts

Before he was posted to the Tuamoto Archipelago, Dr. Kersaint was warned “those islands are sometimes visited by hurricanes, and from all accounts, they are most unpleasant things.” Fifteen years later, Kersaint tells a young colleague the story of a handful of one hurricane’s survivors.  The Hurricane by Charles Nordhoff & James Norman Hall Little, […]

Truxton King battles real villians in fairy-tale setting

Truxton King is the third of George Barr McCutcheon’s novels about Graustark, a tiny East European monarchy. Graustark’s fairy-tale existence is threatened by forces making their presence felt worldwide at the dawn of the 20th century. Truxton King by George Barr McCutcheon Harrison Fisher, illus. Dodd, Mead 1909. 1909 bestseller #3. Project Gutenberg EBook #14284. […]