Friday, 2 May 2014

No-Nonsense Reviews - The Carr Family series by Susan Coolidge

Pros
+ Easy to read and hard to put down
+ Fairly short books
+ Likeable characters

YMMV
+/- Victorian novels, so heavy on the morality
+/- The fourth book moves focus to a secondary, less likeable, character

Cons
- The third book does not give a good account of Americans (particularly children) abroad

I was given the first three of these books as a child (there is a fifth, which I've not read), although I only really remembered the first two and part of the third.  When I first got my Kindle I found these free on the Amazon store, but I only remembered I had them recently and decided to re-read them.

The first three stories revolve around Katy Carr who starts out wild by Victorian standards, but with a kind heart, and follows how she is eventually 'tamed' with the aid of a sainted cousin and a life-changing event.  Even when she's bratty Katy is likeable, and she grows into a sensible young woman who still retains a little fire and temper while still being the model of Victorian womanhood.

It was obviously written as a kind of manual for how young Victorian women should be and can be pretty heavy-handed with it, but it is typical of its time, so to judge it too harshly for it or view it with modern eyes would be to do it a disservice.

The first two books aren't too bad, but the third makes American travellers to Europe seem unbearable, particularly the child, Amy, who becomes a complete and utter brat—definitely my least favourite out of the four I've read.

The fourth breaks away from following Katy to follow her younger sister Clover instead, which is an interesting change but I didn't find Clover, sweet as she is, as engaging as Katy and it doesn't hold the interest as much as the first three.

They're interesting reads for a snapshot of Victorian America, and they're apparently semi-autobiographical too, and they make an interesting change of pace, but I think it'll be another fifteen years before I feel the need to read them again.


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