Glittering and gossipy, an extravagant panorama of the “Age of Scandal”. Describing a period where manners were all, morals nothing, and money useful but not essential, novelist and social historian Murray (Castle Howard: The Life and Times of a Stately Home, not reviewed) lightly surveys the English aristocracy’s and beau monde’s best time since the Restoration. The habits and hobbies, fancies and finances of Regency bucks and beaux, debs and “demi-reps” (i.e., courtesans) may be fodder for bodice-buster novels, but the facts are no less sensational, at least at the top of society’s upper crust. The Prince Regent, the future George IV, arguably had more taste (both good and bad) than any other monarch and set the tone for the bon ton with reckless spending, architectural extravagance, sartorial ostentation, an irregular love life, and gluttonous appetite’subjects addressed here in titillating detail. In Nurray’s account, these characteristics of his count for more than, say, his ties with radical politics or his succession scheming during the Regency Crisis. Likewise, among his friends, Beau Brummel, the era’s best-dressed gentleman, counts for more in these pages than Charles James Foy, the brilliant but dissolute opposition politician, and in the historical calendar of events, the Grand Jubilee of 1814 gets more space than the “Peterloo” massacre during food riots in 1816. With a top-heavy but otherwise wide-ranging array of observers and informants, Murray’s sources include the mandatory Lord Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb as well as Captain Charles Gronow and the busybody Princess Lieven of Austria, plus the archives at Windsor and Chatsworth. Murray ends in cautioning her reader that the Regency Era was not merely “a glamorous chimera,” but like any good gossip, her book cannot help gravitating to the era’s diverting aspects. A social history—with the emphasis heavily on the social—both frivolously entertaining and assiduously researched. (16 pages b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-88328-X

Page Count: 317

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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