Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The latest Oz reading

I just finished the first book in a new project I'm working on. I looked at my collection one day, and realized I had just about all of the works of L. Frank Baum, Ruth Plumly Thompson, Jack Snow, and Eloise Jarvis McGraw, as well as many books illustrated by W. W. Denslow and John R. Neill. But where were the books of Rachel R. Cosgrove? I decided to start collecting and reading her books, under her various names (as well as various permutation of her married name, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, she also published under two pseudonyms, E. L. Arch and Joanne Kaye.) And The Silent Place is the first of her non-Oz novels that I've read (although I've found a few of her short stories before). This is a gothic romance, first published in 1969, with all that encompasses. There's a handsome widowed father, a traumatized daughter, a young schoolteacher who comes to the mansion as a tutor/governess, a jealous secretary, the mysterious return of someone who may or may not be the wife come back to life, clues in the attic, a fog-enshrowded beach, and of course, true love that is tested and pushed to its limits before the happy ending. The romance comes from left field, and seems to be more background than the mystery at the heart of the story, so Fiona and Rome's attraction seemed forced to me. Otherwise, this was a fun popcorn read, and definitely along the lines of Mary Louise Adopts a Soldier. I know most of what Rachel wrote is more along the lines of this book than The Hidden Valley of Oz, and this seems like a good jumping on point.

On a related note, I'm going to use my collecting Rachel's books to also compile a checklist of her published works. So if anyone has any of her books that I don't already have or know about (and I already have a few more on the way), or resources about where to find more (I know a lot of her short stories were published in science fiction magazines), please let me know. This is a sadly overlooked field of Ozian research, and I hope to have a finished product within the next couple of years.

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