Sunday, July 26, 2009

My latest Oz reading

This is going to be my last Oz-related book for a while, but it's at least closer to Oz than some of the stuff I've read recently. Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls is by "Edith Van Dyne," which was probably the most successful pseudonym L. Frank Baum wrote under. Good grief, though, this one was tough to get through at times. It's set during World War I, so both pro-American patriotism and anti-German feelings were quite high. The Liberty Girls was a group Mary Louise founded to raise money for war bonds, and once they were successful, they went on to other endeavors to help the soldiers and the Allied cause. Of course, there's a German spy ring in town! And anyone who shows anything less than whole support for the war, and/or who has any sort of connection with Germany whatsoever is suspect. It would be comical if it weren't so frightening. There is a lot of talk of throwing anyone in jail for treason if they don't help out the Allies, and at one point some character casually mentions that anyone of German or Austrian ancestry should be thrown in jail to make sure that the spies and sympathizers are put out of the way, even though a lot of innocent patriots would be there, too!

Along comes girl detective Josie O'Gorman, who we've met in previous Mary Louise books, who helps figure out who the spies are. Much to my amusement, she messes up and accuses a load of innocent people wih perfectly logical explanations! But alas, she wasn't totally wrong, and the guilty parties, although a lot fewer than expected, are found out and dealt with.

Anyone who thinks our current standards of female beauty are a new thing should take a look at this book. Mary Louise and the rest of the Liberty Girls are all thin and beautiful, while Josie O'Gorman is short, plump, and has red hair and freckles. But she has "a great personality," so people like her anyway. Sheesh, some of us like freckles, redheads, and women with curves. (First Patsy in the Aunt Jane's Nieces books, now this.)

Ah, well, at least that's one less book by Baum (probably; some of these books may have at least been co-written by one of his sons) I now have to read. Thanks to Project Gutenberg and all of the reprints that are coming out, I may actually get to read all of his works.

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