Tuesday, May 8, 2012
My American by Stella Gibbons
Amy Lee is a scruffy little girl when she happens upon Robert Vorst who is slightly older at thirteen years-old. He is visiting England with his mother and aunts and biding his time in the courtyard until they emerge from their tour of this magnificently situated historical home. Cheekily asking if he could loan her six pence for the fare home, Amy puts out her hand for a coin and tucks it into her glove for safekeeping. Shortly afterwards she pulls it out to have a look and is more than a little hurt to discover a buffalo head staring back at her, it's an American coin and useless to her. It is not the last she sees of Robert though.
The poor thing is a bit of an urchin, growing up without a mother and barely cared for by a father who really didn't want her in the first place. Through circumstance, Amy, ends up living with the Beeding brood where another child about the place is simply a case of the more, the merrier. But for a girl who counts the seconds until she can be alone with her pen and notebook to create her stories the hustle and bustle sometimes proves to be a bit maddening. Sharing her deepest secret desire with a teacher, Amy, is allowed to hide her notebook away in a filing cabinet at school and write in solitude after class.
It all sounds absolutely delicious doesn't it? My American felt a bit like a three course meal to me in that it has a tempting appetizer, the meat of the story follows. And then, just when I was really looking forward to the dessert things got a bit weird and the book turns into a dime store crime novel! Now I am quite sure that in 1939 when this was published there were hoards of fifteen year-old girls just lapping up every episode of illegal activity and sexual innuendo but I found it a bit of a struggle and almost lost the will to continue at one point. Where was her editor? But, I did persevere through almost 450 pages for the sake of those who might still be reading my post at this point. The dessert does finally arrive but my goodness, what a wait.
This is the third Stella Gibbons book that I have read and found to be enjoyable enough but I would be hard pressed to shout from the rooftops about any of them. So now I am wondering whether it would be worth my time to give Cold Comfort Farm a try, am I missing the jewel in the crown?