Kelly, Carla: Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career

And now for something completely different: Carla Kelly’s Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career (recently reprinted with Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand). This is a Regency romance, via an author recommendation from Melymbrosia on LiveJournal.

This was charming, warm fun; I can tell it’s flawed and I don’t really care. Partly I’m well-disposed towards it because it was clearly written by an author who’s read and loved Gaudy Night—not, I hasten to add, that they are particularly comparable works, except that they’re set at Oxford and are suffused with a love of reading and a respect for intellectual endeavor. Partly it’s because it takes the plot furniture of the genre and tweaks it: the “girl in disguise as a boy” doesn’t fool the hero for a minute; the “noble hero comes in and fixes lives of everyone in heroine’s family” is nicely modulated; and the plot-driving secondary characters are given touches of nuance. So yeah, the plot’s overstuffed, and it’s anachronistic, and there’s bits of stupid deception, but the characters are just nice people and I really enjoyed reading about them.

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  1. This was charming, warm fun; I can tell it’s flawed and I don’t really care.

    Yes, this is exactly how I feel. I’m glad it worked for you.

  2. Yup. I’m rationing out the rest of the ones I have for times when I really need a book like that–besides the other half of that two-fer, I have Libby’s London Merchant, Miss Chartley’s Guided Tour, and The Wedding Journey to look forward to.

    Yay, comfort books.

  3. It took me roughly a dozen Kellys before all the niggling wrongness bits started to irritate me enough that I knew I needed a break. I sometimes wish that Kelly could come up with plots that would let her write contemporaries. But then, I’m completely out of step; I prefer the earlier Crusies and Brockmanns, too.

    And speaking of Brockmann (well, not really, but she’s said that the Johnson Johnson Dunnetts are the only ones she can read), noticed over on Pamela Dean’s blog that you’d found the Dolly books. While order’s not important (although it’s fun watching the hero live his life backwards), titles are. Not only do the books sport different US/UK titles, but then they were retitled (thus, Dolly and the Singing Bird is AKA The Photogenic Soprano and Rum Affair. Elizabeth Holden lays it all out on her Dunnett webpage.

  4. Kathy Li: I don’t know Brockmann. Should I?

    And the little scrap of paper in my wallet has _all_ the variants titles–I think, but thanks for the warning.

  5. Ah. Should’ve known you’d been Dolly-warned. Yes, you should probably know Suzanne Brockmann of the neverending SEAL series, if you are a Jennifer Crusie and Carla Kelly fan. She’s a category writer (mostly Bantam Loveswepts) who’s broken out into contemporary single-titles. If you can find it, I’d suggest grabbing Time Enough For Love (BLS #858) as it accomplishes the near-impossible by being a GOOD time-travel romance novel, but since that’s hard to find, there are always the reprints to SEAL books 2 & 3 Forever Blue and Frisco’s Kid, if you want a sample. The SEAL series, however, does have diminishing returns the farther you follow it.

  6. Thanks, I’ll browse through her books if I see them.

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