The Shuttle is tightly-woven, multi-genre tale

When she learns of her sister’s engagement, eight-year-old Bettina “Betty” Vanderpoel cries, “He’ll do something awful to you….He’ll nearly kill you. I know he will.” Sir Nigel Anstruthers turns out as nasty as Betty predicts. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett 1908 bestseller #5. Project Gutenberg ebook #506. My grade: A-. When he realizes Reuben […]

The prize in The Silver Horde is gold

Rex Beach’s The Silver Horde is a breathless story of competition to make a killing in the short salmon spawning season. Engineer Boyd Emerson and “Fingerless” Frasier, whom he rescued from police on an ice-floe in Norton Sound, arrive in Kalvik, Alaska, just barely alive. The Silver Horde by Rex Beach 1909 bestseller #3. Project […]

Loose Ends Amplify Theme of Kindred of the Dust

Kindred of the Dust is an old-fashioned romance about love that’s based on trusting the loved one’s character. Hector McKaye is the richest lumberman Washington state and first citizen of Port Agnew.  His son, Donald, is like him in business acumen, integrity, and rejection of humbug. Donald is smitten by Nan Brent, a poor local […]

Letters of a Self-Made Merchant to His Son: A Businessman’s Home Companion

If Garrison Keillor had been CEO of a pork-packing business in the 1890s, he might have written Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son. Since he was not, George Horace Lorimer undertook the task, producing a bestselling novel brimming with funny stories, shrewd advice, and love. Each of the 17 chapters of the novel […]

Babbitt Sales Contradict Satire

George F. Babbitt, 46 has vague yearning for something other than being making money, but he’s not sure what it is. In college, he had dreams of being a lawyer and doing battle for truth and justice. He settled for “selling houses for more than people could afford to pay.” He is bored with his […]

Insiders’ peek into the book business

Youngblood Hawke is Herman Wouk’s contribution to the shelf of novels by novelists about novelists. The novel has the usual plot complications readers expect as the rube with the typewriter is taken on, taken in, and taken over by shysters. The story opens with Arthur Youngblood Hawke’s sale of his first novel to Prince House. […]

An 1911 Interactive Novel: The Iron Woman

Margaret Deland’s The Iron Woman opens conventionally enough but  quickly develops into a complex psychological study that winds up as an interactive novel in which readers select the ending. A pair of half-siblings whose mother runs Maitlin Iron Works and two other local children settle their conjugal futures one afternoon in an apple tree. Blair […]