Friday, June 19, 2009

Two Guilty Pleasures

First, Harper's Island.

I may not seem like the type to enjoy horror/thriller-type entertainment, but every now and then, I am. (Particularly if it's mild enough to be shown on network TV. I know I can handle it if it's not deemed too gory for the ol' tube. ;o)) This series has turned out to be more entertaining than the first couple of episodes led me to expect. Unlike apparently every other person who watches the show, I don't really have a pet theory about the identity of the killer. I think several people are equally likely to turn out guilty-- even one of the supposedly deceased characters. The writers have done a good job of making just about everyone seem suspicious. (g)

It's nice to know that there are only a set number of episodes and that the program was designed with a particular ending in mind. With "regular", on-going series, it usually feels like things are just drifting-- not good for mysteries.

I only wish I could go ahead and finish the series all at once! I want to know how it ends!

- - - - - - -

The second (less guilty) guilty pleasure is The Hidden Hand, a novel by E.D.E.N. Southworth.

This novel was recommended in passing by one of my high school teachers. I think she made the suggestion based on seeing that I was reading Jane Eyre-- as in "If you like Jane Eyre, you ought to read The Hidden Hand." She gave me the author's unusual name, and it remained on my "to read" list for years. I never happened across it, but whenever I'd transfer my list of title and authors to a fresh sheet of paper, eliminating some of them as either lost causes or no longer appealing, I'd keep The Hidden Hand. If it could possibly be compared to Jane Eyre, then it deserved to stay.

Well, I've finally found it and started reading. (You can, too, if you click the link above. It's available for free online. I bought a printed copy, because I'm just not that crazy about reading from the monitor, but you can't beat free.)

I'm almost 100 pages into the story, with over 350 left to go. Here are some things I've noted so far:
  • Marah and Traverse-- What an odd mother-son relationship! I realize we have to make some allowances, considering that this was written and edited in the mid to late 1800s, but it's almost creepy at times.
  • There are some instances of possibly offensive language and racial stereotypes. (Again, take the era it was written into consideration.)
  • Capitola is a bit of a Mary Sue, so far. (And I suspect that she may only increase in Mary Sue-ishness, as the story progresses.) And of course, if Capitola is a Mary Sue, then I have to label Herbert and Traverse (especially the latter) as a pair of Gary Stus.
  • I had to laugh when it turned out that Capitola has not only an unusual identifying birthmark (on the palm of her hand, which struck me as an odd spot for a birthmark), but also a tattoo of her name and birth date! How very... convenient.
  • A trapdoor in Capitola's bedroom? Leading to a bottomless pit? Really?
  • Would people actually have reacted so strongly to a 14-year-old (I think) girl dressing in boy's clothes? Would it really have been looked upon as an almost criminal offense?
  • "Miss Condiment"-- What a name! Reminds me a little of Dickens, only less subtle in its oddity.
  • The relationships among the characters are about as tangled as in a soap opera! There are too many coincidences to count, and I'm not even a third of the way in!
  • No-one's hair is merely "black". It's (almost) always "jet black" or "coal black".
  • Within the space of two sentences, someone uses the phrase "HORROR OF HORRORS!" (yes, in all caps) and says she "swooned away".
So far, I can't see much Jane Eyre in this book, but I suppose it's still interesting, in its own way. I don't see myself re-reading this one time after time, though.