Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last book notes of 2011

77. Penny Plain
by O. Douglas
fiction, 1920
Kindle book, 46
finished, 11/29/11

penny plain
plain and simple

I imagine the 1920 audience for O. Douglas' book knew exactly what the title referred to, while this reader ninety years on had to look it up. Jean, the heroine of the book is indeed this kind of person - she is 'plain and simple' with no airs about her. She is honest and forthright. She is the older sister of three young boys; two of whom are biologically related while the youngest one has a rather complicated connection. They all love him to pieces. Since the death of their aunt, Jean has been older sister and mother to the boys. She devotes herself to them without complaint. The book is a chronicle of daily life in her beloved Priorsford; the people who come into the town and into her life, and the people who are the inhabitants of the town. It is sweet and kindly and really everything you might want in a book when you are a wee bit tired of the news, or the pace of modern life. This is not to say that the characters have perfect or easy lives. Not by any means. There is for example a mother whose sons were all killed in what they called then, the Great War.

I came upon three wonderful writings about Penny Plain, and you may read them here, and here, and here.

78. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
by Agatha Christie
mystery - short story collection, 1960
Kindle book, 47
finished, 12/15/11

I wrote about The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding here, and then went on to read the rest of them. I didn't think any of them were quite as good as that one, though with any Agatha story there is always some appeal. There's an intriguing death in The Mystery of the Spanish Chest, which Poirot solves by using his excellent powers of observation, which also come into play in the story Four and Twenty Blackbirds. I guess I would say this collection was 'okay' but not particularly excellent or that memorable.


  1. I'm still reading my first Christie Poirot book. I really think I'd like to read more again after I'm done with this one. I forgot how much I loved Christie.

  2. I must try the O.Douglas book, I enjoy books written in the 20s and 30s and that sounds a pleasant winetr afternoon's read. I gave the Adventure of the Christmas Pudding to my son as part of his Christmas present. He's collecting all the facsimile First Editions of Agatha Christie.

  3. Until you explained about Penny Plain, I've only known of Plain Jane.

    By the way, thank you for changing your header to that sweet picture again - when I saw it some days ago, it brought a smile on my face, it was like greeting an old friend or entering a familiar area of town, reminding me of winter 2010 when you also used it as your header.

  4. I've enjoyed hearing about the stories you've found. I never seem to find time to read a short story because there are so many books I want to read more. I do think, thanks to you, that I'm missing something though.

  5. She is such a pleasure, Kay.

    Rowan, I have grown quite fond of O. Douglas. I like Jane's Parlour and Pink Sugar the best so far. I love what your son is doing - that's just great.

    Librarian, it's one of my favorites. More info on it under 'banner picture'

    Barbara, that's why I was happy to find Short Stories on Wednesdays at

    It provides a structure for me so I sit down once a week and read a story. Wanna join in??

  6. The Christmas Pudding is a good holiday story, Nan. But FOUR AND TWENTY BLACKBIRDS was turned into a fabulous PBS Mystery episode. One of the early ones.

    It's currently available for streaming over at Netflix if you're so inclined.

    I watch this particular episode all the time. It's fascinating and shows Poirot having dinner with his dentist. The absolute charm of David Suchet is on display.

  7. I love your header! I have not read short stories either but I think I will check out your Wednesday short story group.

  8. I, of course, added it to my instant queue! Thanks, Yvette.

    Peggy, did you see that I linked to your Penny Plain piece??

  9. I think you will find that Penny Plain refers to the opposite type of magazine of the day, which was Tuppence Coloured, i.e. it was cheaper to have it printed in just black and white than in colour.
    Margaret P

  10. Margaret, nice to hear from you! I did find this def.

    "ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: with reference to prints of characters sold for toy theatres, costing one penny for black-and-white ones, and two pennies for coloured ones."

    But decided for Jean, the few words were more about her. She was indeed 'plain and simple.'

  11. Thank you for linking to my review of Penny Plain. I've read several O Douglas novels & I agree with you, they're perfect comfort reading.

  12. Lyn, I just love it that this author who wrote so long ago is loved and written about here in the blogging world. Such a wonderful thing.


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