Sunday, August 8, 2010

Reading... All Over the Place

Not all over the place physically, you understand. My geographical location has been limited to my old bedroom at my parents' house (now referred to as "the Green Bedroom" for a host of reasons... like the fact that I usually sleep in what was at one time my sister's bedroom, but which is now referred to as "the Yellow Bedroom." It's like we live in the White House... but not).

Rather, it's my literary tastes that are all over the place, recently. In the past three days, I've read three books (thank you,!) that are each completely different from the other.

The Fall of the House of Walworth
If your mom and dad were stepsister/stepbrother, and your dad was a mediocre romantic novelist in the 19th century, you'd probably want to kill somebody. Frank Walworth, son of Mansfield Walworth - the mediocre novelist who was married to his stepsister, Ellen Hardin Walworth - decided he did need to kill somebody: his father. Yup. Daddy-o had been sending threatening letters to his (estranged) wife and threatening the lives of his children for several years, and Frank Walworth couldn't take it any more. At the age of 19, he shot and killed his father, and set off one of the biggest trials/scandals in the country.

Frank Walworth was the first person in New York convicted of second degree murder (murder "in a fit of passion" or "without malice aforethought") which meant he wasn't automatically sentenced to hang (lucky break, kid - 2nd degree murder was legislated the week before he offed his dear old dad). The book traces the rising and then precipitously declining fortunes of the respected Walworth family, one of the oldest families in America (they were Pilgrims, what?).

Too bad, too, because little Frank Walworth was also the best-looking member of his family (some of his sisters... woof).

Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocolypse
A serial killer is talking Toy City. Can 13 year old Jack and Eddie Bear (the Teddy Bear) figure out who the killer is?

Yes. Yes they can. And they can do it after orgies of underage drinking, virginity-losing (in Jack's case - Eddie's a regular at the brothel, but he only does it with other stuffed bears: no interspecies action for him. No, I'm not joking.), driving under the influence, and scamming innocent toys in Toy City.

Entertaining: YES.
Horrifying: YES.

I am so glad I read this book, although I doubt I will read any of Robert Rankin's other novels. This is one to keep on the top shelf, kiddos, at least until the real kiddos are over the age of sixteen.

A Little Princess
Wait! Wait! You cry. You're following up a review of a book that involves gratuitous sex and violence with a review of a beloved children's classic, illustrated by the illustrious Tasha Tudor?

You bet your bippy, I am.

I've read A Little Princess multiple times, but I couldn't find my copy of the book. I decided on a whim to buy it (you'd think there'd be less impulse buying online since you can review your purchases multiple times, but noooooooooooooo) and I'm glad I did. The copy I now possess is a hardback edition (I'd only ever had the paperback edition before) and half the illustrations are in full color!
Yes, I can get excited about that and it's perfectly acceptable.

It follows the rising and falling and re-rising fortunes of Sara Crewe, daughter of Ralph Crewe, an adventurer who made and lost a fortune in India, and then died. Sara is at boarding school in London upon his death, and is forced to become a servant in the house. Although the author's descriptions sometimes get a little sappy, it's overall a wonderfully written book (and I could just be jaded because of the Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse). Everything turns out okay in the end, just as it should, and Sara gets to spend her days as a little princess should.

Of course, I always think she should marry her wealthy benefactor - or is Indian retainer - but that's just what I would have done.

I'm blaming that last observation on the Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, too.

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