5 days ago
Saturday, June 12, 2010
46. Cordelia Underwood by Van Reid
"Reading Van Reid's first novel, Cordelia Underwood, is a little like moving to a small town where everyone knows everybody else and has for generations. Certainly the novel boasts a cast of if not thousands, at least dozens of characters ranging from the spirited title character, Cordelia, to a bear named Maude. The story, such as it is, begins in the year 1896 and involves a mysterious inheritance--a parcel of land in the north of Maine that Cordelia's Uncle Basil has left to her. But readers will find themselves less interested in Uncle Basil's bequest than in the kaleidoscope of eccentrics who involve themselves in it. The subtitle of Reid's novel is The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League, and it is with the formation of this secret club that much of the novel concerns itself. Every character has a story to tell and each fresh tale seems to spawn another; there are balloon ascensions, phantom sailors, mysterious notes, and determined suitors; fortunately, everyone is so charming and their yarns so entertaining that you don't really mind the many, many digressions from the purported main point of the book, namely Cordelia and her inheritance. Set in the 19th century, Cordelia Underwood exhibits some of that century's literary conventions, as well--originally published in serial form in a regional newspaper, it is a sprawling tale populated with singular personalities and intended to entertain. In short, it's perfect reading for those long, lazy dog days of summer." Amazon.com Review
This was a fun book to read, absolutely loaded with eccentric, funny characters. Even the villain is likeable. I disagree with the above review that the main point of the book is Cordelia's inheritance. While she is a prominent character, the star of the book and subsequent sequels is Tobias Walton, a portly, older gentleman who loves adventures and loves to laugh. I think the main point of the book is the forming of The Moosepath League and Walton's invitation to be the chairman of that club. I like the book enough to add its sequel to my wishlist on Bookmooch. I hope there is some conclusion to what happened to Cordelia, but it looks like it will be mostly about Tobias and his fellow clubmembers. The ending is a bit of a cliff hanger which was a surprise to me as I didn't know about the sequels. That is my only complaint. Otherwise, it is a totally charming book.