The Turmoil, a novel
Amazon Reader Review: I read this because I’ve been on a serious Booth Tarkington/Sinclair Lewis kick. However, I read “The Magnificent Ambersons” first and it is simply Tarkington’s standout novel.
“The Turmoil” is the first in Tarkington’s “The Growth Trilogy,” and it’s OK, although I think one good book (that is, “Ambersons,” the second in the series) might have sufficed. I would have given “The Turmoil” 3.5 stars, but I couldn’t figure out how to find a half star. The third in the trilogy, “National Avenue” or “The Midlander,” seems to be unavailable anywhere, so perhaps others also thought one book was plenty for this series about proud aristocratic families losing their fortunes amid rapid industrialization of the 20th Century because they don’t know how to earn money, only squander it.
The infrastructure of Tarkington’s stories is often little more than a soap opera. The reason to read Tarkington is the atmosphere around his story. If you ever looked at the fantastic architecture from the late 1800s to the 1930s or so and wondered about the people who built those houses, here is your answer. He not only introduces you to the builders, but he takes you right inside those houses to daily life.
Tarkington is billed today as a Republican through and through, but don’t be fooled. While he is conservative in some of his views, he hates the blight of big-business industrialization; I have yet to read a Tarkington story that doesn’t gripe incessantly about the ever present soot darkening all that was once white. I guess today’s comparison is our alternate reality, cyberspace, taking our jobs, eliminating human interactions, sentencing us to weeks in our lonely rooms and chronic Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
If you’re on a Tarkington kick, or feel compelled to read the entire trilogy, or wondered about those houses, this is a good read.
See also: The Magnificent Ambersons
A Far Country – Complete
By Winston Churchill, not the British politician, but the American author that almost nobody reads anymore.
Amazon reader review: Not written by Winston S. Churchill. It’s about how the Railroad baron, political Bosses and politics worked in the late 19th century. Definitely worth reading.
By Gene Stratton-Porter
I loved this one as a kid. As an adult, I see that it has flaws, and the eugenics theories of the time slip into all her books, but…. I still love this one.
Pollyanna Grows Up
The sequel to Pollyanna
Amazon Reader Review: Fully recovered from her previous automobile accident, Pollyanna returns once again to the city of Boston, in request of her kind nurse, Della Wetherby. This last has a sister by the name of Ruth Carew, who is miserable and depressed as a consequence of a great loss, a young nephew by the name of Jamie who was taken away by his father, the woman’s brother-in-law and who was never seen again. Della Wetherby’s sorrow was just as grand, but her career as a nurse allows her to forget, while Ruth Carew lives alone in her big house in Commonwealth Avenue with nothing else she does or wants to do but to think of the lost Jamie. However, with her visit, Pollyanna soon changes things around, at first driving Mrs. Carew mad but soon she enters her heart.
Pollyanna finds a lot of new friends in Boston, beginning with the servants in Mrs. Carew’s own home, Jerry, a young newspaper selling boy, Jamie, a crippled boy who Pollyanna is sure is the lost “Jamie,” and Sadie Dean, a homeless working young girl. In Boston Pollyanna spends most of her time trying to locate Jamie, in desperate hope to please Mrs. Carew, but of this I shall say no more, the surprise twist is for the very reader to discover on his or her own.
The second part of the book may not arrive too welcomed by some readers, like Jimmy ‘Bean’ Pendenton stated, we readers weren’t ready to see little Pollyanna grow up. However, although Miss Pollyanna Whittier has indeed grown up, she has managed to mantain her usual personality, even if some of her more innocent charm is gone. Pollyanna indeed needs her gladness and her famouse Glad Game to be able to survive the terrible dark times that have arrived at the Harrington homestead, where she grew up with the strict, but changed Aunt Polly, who has gone almost back to square one.
In conclusion, if you’ve enjoyed the first part of this story, then you will definitely enjoy the further adventures of the glad girl and all of her old and new friends. Definitely a great sequel to an unforgettable classic!
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
About the Author
Mary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was an American writer, often called the American Agatha Christie, although her first mystery novel was published 14 years before Christie’s. She is considered the source of the phrase “The butler did it”, although she did not actually use the phrase. She is considered to have invented the “Had-I-But-Known” school of mystery writing.
Reader Review: Quite philosophical and very evocative of another time, other values, another world view.
Still has plenty to say about both good and evil. About second chances and the problem of sin….
Really fun to discover not what I think about people shortly after the turn of the 20th century, but of what people at the turn of the century thought about themselves.
The next is Jaffrey, by William J. Locke. Amazon doesn’t have in a free Kindle version, but they have these two for free:
Simon the Jester
I’ve read this one in my great-grandparents hard-cover.
Amazon Reader Review: “It was a soft November day, full of blue mist and invested with a dying grace by a pale sunshine struggling through thin, grey rain clouds. It was a faded lady of a day – a lady of waxen cheeks, attired in pearl-grey and old lace, her dim eyes illumined by a last smile.” Such were his thoughts after Simon de Gex, MP, learned that he had 6 months to live. He might have isolated himself and waited the inevitable outcome, but if he had we would not have a wonderful story of a man struggling to do good in his final days and failing and succeeding and finally understanding what it means. Don’t get the idea that this is a melancholy tale. It is not. William John Locke is a delightfully humourous writer and that wit appears throughout this book. His style, grasp of language, development of memorable characters, and, best of all, storytelling ability shine through in this book. I think he is among the very best English writers of any age.
Me again: I don’t remember the details any longer, but I do remember that at the time I read it, I quite disagreed with both the author and Simon on their ideas of good, but I still found it an interesting and provocative read.
The Belovéd Vagabond
Felix O’Day by F. Hopkinson Smith
About the Author
An American author, story-teller, illustrator, and engineer, Francis Hopkinson Smith (1838-1915) was the descendant of Francis Hopkinson, a signatory to the Declaration of Independence. The foundation of the Statue of Liberty is amongst his greatest achievements as an engineer. Earning fame as an illustrator and painter, he started his literary career in his fifties and published the famous series of Colonel Carter novels.
The Harbor by Ernest Poole
THE HARBOR is chock full of observations that are so contemporary and relevant that one might think this published now instead of 100 years ago. “Billy” telling his story in the first person leads us down a path from childhood in 1880’s Brooklyn to growing up and working as a writer/reporter in the early 1910’s. The book is supposed to be a socialist polemic that pits the capitalists profiting from labor in the ports of New York and the ships that come through it. But overlaying it we have Billy growing up observing the ever changing and dynamic NY waterfront and growing up. In one example Billy as a college student debates his affection for Voltaire, Hugo or Maupassant to his friend and foil Joe Kramer’s attraction to Darwin, Nietzsche, Whitman or Zola. Kramer and Billy are debating like college students will for the next 100 years and equally questioning “truth” and “education”. It’s an interesting and completely unselfconscious passage one could find in any coming of age book written in the last well hundred years.
Billy grows up with a father obsessed with building a successful shipping company and a mother who nurtures her son’s interests in books, literature and writing. Again just as young people have always done Billy finds a calling to study in Paris; an essentially indulgent and somewhat narcissistic period that only ends when called back to New York to tend to a family tragedy.
The second half of the book is considerably different as Billy’s journey shifts from one of growing maturity to how he’ll make his way in the world, what will be his life work and worldview. He is quite taken up by the Harbor and falls for the “Big Men” capitalist that want to make the waterfront grander in anticipation of the Panama Canal.
The Lone Star Ranger
Zane Grey, what more needs to be said?
Angela’s Business by Henry Sydnor Harrison
About the Author
American author HENRY SYDNOR HARRISON (1880-1930) is best remembered for his novels Queed (1911) and Captivating Mary Carstairs (1914).
The above are all affiliate links. Thanks!