deird1: Fred reading a book (Fred book)
[personal profile] deird1
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been re-reading the Billabong books – and enjoying them, but also laughing quite a bit. They’re so odd.

And yet, from what I’ve seen of the era, they’re exactly like pretty much every other novel written back then. (Except for murder mysteries, which are a different genre and function on entirely separate rules.)


For instance, all the main characters are upstanding and forthright chaps, who never do anything wrong, are good at everything they ever attempt, and are beloved by every person they come into contact with.



And then there’s the plotlines…

Which…

Well, just look at this.


Chapters 1–3, in which they decide to go to Ireland:

Chapter 1: Wally and Jim are soldiers at Flanders, discuss the war, and get gassed by Germans.

Chapter 2: Norah gets a telegram mentioning that Jim and Wally are coming to England. (Seriously, this takes 14 pages.)

Chapter 3: They visit Jim and Wally in hospital, manage to stay for longer than the nurses want them to, and decide to go to Ireland.


Chapters 4–7, in which they’re in Ireland:

Chapter 4: They take a boat to Ireland, briefly see a German submarine, and then sail away really fast and everything’s fine.

Chapter 5: The train takes forever to get to their hotel, there’s a sheep running away from train porters, and then they get to the hotel and enjoy dinner.

Chapter 6: They go trout fishing, and decide it’s really fun.

Chapter 7: They go fishing again and accidentally fall in the lake, but still think it’s really fun.


Chapters 8–12, in which they’re still in Ireland:

Chapter 8: Wally meets John O’Neill, and they chat about Australia and Ireland.

Chapter 9: Norah tries to buy pins, but fails.

Chapter 10: They look at a big rock, and talk about ancient Irish poets.

Chapter 11: They decide to go on holiday (even more than they already were) and drive the car through a marketplace.

Chapter 12: The car breaks down, and they realise it needs repairs.


Chapters 13–16, in which they uncover a secret German cache, and take out an evil submarine crew:

Chapter 13: Wally and Jim discover a cave full of secret German submarine supplies!

Chapter 14: They plan a three-man take-down of a submarine crew!

Chapter 15: They come up with a better plan for a three-man take-down of a submarine crew!

Chapter 16: They attack the submarine crew and win! Someone dies heroically! The end!



…does anyone else see a slight imbalance in the final section of the book?

And the thing is, it’s not just this book: in another one, they devote whole chapters to rounding up sheep and discussing the weather, and then suddenly uncover a smuggling ring; in yet another, there’s a whole lot of horse-breaking, cooking, and swimming in the lake …and then they suddenly discover gold deposits and have their very own gold rush.

It’s like:
boring boring boring boring boring boring HUGE BIG EVENT boring

Fairly normal for the era, but if you’re used to reading novels from this century, they’re very strange…


Date: 2010-11-22 06:24 am (UTC)
velvetwhip: (Flamingo)
From: [personal profile] velvetwhip
I need to read these because I love old novels. Not that I'm reading Louisa May Alcott potboilers like A Long Fatal Love Chase or anything...


Gabrielle

Date: 2010-11-22 06:38 am (UTC)
nimthiriel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nimthiriel
I don't know if it was a joke or a true story, but I remember my parents telling me a story about someone failing a book review because he gave up on the book.

The first 200 or so pages were about the guy trying to figure out ways to get over a fence. In the last 50 pages he gets over the fence, robs the house and murders somone... I don't know if he got caught by the cops.

I'm more inclined to believe that it's a true story now :-p

Date: 2010-11-22 10:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hmmm.

I'm thinking of 'What Katy Did' and 'Little Women' which both have Dramatic Endings. But they're kind of a different style of book, which is all little anecdotes about a bunch of people doing different things.

Although, maybe that's the point - that this author really thinks they're writing that type of book, bcause that's what they're used to? So, when did the 'gradual unfolding of plot'-type story get developed?

Date: 2010-11-22 10:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jl-in-the-lane.livejournal.com
grrrrwhydidDWputmycommentinasAnonymoussillyDWgrrrrrrr...

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