So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mary Louise and Josie O'Gorman by Emma Speed Sampson is the eighth of a ten volume series of Bluebird Books for young girls featuring two young amateur female detectives. Originally started by L. Frank Baum writing as Edith Van Dyne, the series was continued by Emma Sampson after Baum's death in 1919. While Baum favored Mary Louise, Sampson continues the series focusing more on Josie,the young detective, and treats Mary Louise as a minor character. In this book, Mary Louise donates the house she inherited from her grandfather and a significant sum of money to the local orphanage. Two new orphans attract the attention of Josie O'Gorman who begins to investigate the mystery of their missing parents and the strange young woman who abandoned them. This was an enjoyable novel of the post-war years written with a strong female character which is a pleasant light read.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Mary Louise Solves a Mystery (1917) by L. Frank Baum

This is the third in a series of girl detective novels L. Frank Baum created featuring Mary Louise Burrows and her friend Josie O'Gorman. They appear fairly late in the book with the beginning given over to the sad story of Alora Jones. Her wealthy mother dies when she is 11, leaving Alora and her inheritance in the care of her ex-husband, who Alora had never met. He is sullen, secretive and unsupportive, and Alora is neglected for several years while her father forces her to live in seclusion with him in a remote Italian villa. Mary Louise meets Alora and her father while traveling with her grandfather in Italy. Befriending Alora, Mary Louise senses there is a mystery, and seeks to find out what is behind the strained relationship between Alora and her father.
Baum's young adult novels usually involve class issues and this book is as much about class as it is about mystery. While the novel is almost 100 years old, the detective work is well crafted and will keep the reader interested.