Thursday, August 26, 2021

Why Is the Blog Pink? And Did I Finish My Neglected American Series?

 I tried to go all-American in August. Was it the Olympics?  No, not at all.  I chose to boycott the TV Olympics, thinking it unseemly to hold them during the plague in Tokyo. But whenever Mr. Nemo told me an American had broken a record, I shrieked, "Go, U.S.A." 

I was busy reading while Mr. Nemo watched the track and field events. And I was busy writing my blog when Simone Biles emerged from her self-declared mental illness sanctuary and won the bronze medal. 

I felt that I had completed an Olympic hurdle myself when I realized it was time to change blog platforms.  And  now that I've discovered what I call "the pink parlor template," I feel at home at Blogger. Very simple, very feminine, perhaps faux Victorian, perhaps faux Edwardian - at any rate, it looks like pink wallpaper.


H. K. Browne's illustration of a parlor in Dombey and Son

Although I loved my Wordpress blog, which was the original Thornfield Hall blog,  I recently encountered "road blocks" which made the "new block system" untenable.  If I tried to correct a spelling error, an entire block of text would disappear. Paragraph signs and quote signs vanished by black magic, and as for trying to add and size an image - was I in hell?  The IT department asked repeatedly, "Have you tried emptying your cache?"  One wonders what would have happened if the cache had been full. 

I will use the Wordpress blog for announcements of posts here.


Upon my arrival on August 3 at Thornfield Hall Redux, I announced I was writing a six-part series on neglected American women writers.  I was fantastically moved by The Collected Stories of Hortense Calisher and the overall high quality of The Riddle of the Fly and Other Stories, a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Enright, the award-winning children's writer.

Then I got bogged down while searching for other neglected American writers. The
Library of America and Virago have rediscovered so many worthy books that one can scarcely call them "neglected" anymore. (Think Nancy Hale and Elaine Dundy.) And I have doubts about my inclusion of the Native American writer Susan Power, who I realize belongs to a neglected writer series of a later era. She began writing in the  '90s, while Calisher and Enright started in the '30s and '40s.   Meanwhile, I recommend Susan Powers's 2002 short story collection, Roofwalker.

One of my posts, which I did not consider at the time one of the series, is actually perfect for it. The clever Charlotte Armstrong (1905-1969) is a master of beautifully-written suspense novels.  She won the Edgar award for
A Dram of Poison, one of her wittiest psychological noir classics, and the one I chose to write about. 

For the moment, I'm on a break from neglected American women writers.  As an Anglophile, I've become wistful about English writers. And so I am snuggling up with some semi-neglected English novels this weekend.  For all I know they are widely read in England, but they are neglected here.

Good enough?  We shall see!

Any recommendations for neglected English novels?


  1. i'm prejudiced, but i'd vote for Benjamin Disraeli... all except Henrietta Temple, which is a bit tedious...

  2. Congrats on the move (I hate wordpress's block thingy myself). Love the pink!
    I look forward to a continuation of the series, which I very much enjoyed.
    I agree that the British have been great at rescuing their hitherto neglected writers (I noticed a comparable trend in music, when I used to read Gramaphone; there was always a piece about a forgotten/neglected British composer or performer). I suppose you could pull any persephone edition at random from the shelf (or download, to be more up to date) to find a nice, well written work (they've reprinted a few Americans, but it's mostly British). For my own personal favorite, have you read Pamela Frankau's A Wreath for the Enemy? She's written scads of other things, of which I've only read one or two, but Wreath is far and away the best (in fact, I may look at it again myself this weekend. It's a quick read). Also, have you found Simon's great blog? His speciality is interwar British literature and I've gotten some great recommendations from him.

    1. Oh, I love Pamela Frankau! And Perephone has introduced me to some favorite writers. I wish there were more of Amber Reeves.

    2. Oh my heavens -- a Pamela Frankau reader! How thrilling! As I said, Wreath is an old favorite of mine. I've read The Willow Cabin, which was pretty good; and have a copy of The Winged Horse, which I've been meaning to get to for years. Do you have a favorite, from her many?
      Amber Reeves? Unknown to me! If you're up to it, do share your recommendation!

  3. The new Wordpress block format drives me insane. Fortunately, I only use it for posts on the Classics Club.

    1. Those blocks are ridiculous! Glad I'm not the only one who struggled.