Friday, August 6, 2010

The Cinder Pond: A Free Book Review

The Cinder Pond (audiobook here) by Carroll Watson Rankin, differs considerably from Dandelion Cottage, though both involve (at least initially) architectural oddities.

The story opens with a splash as a boy accidentally plumbs the depths of Lake Michigan and is rescued by a girl who lives in a ramshackle building on a disused bit of pier. Humiliated, he trudges home and at least some of the truth comes out. But that story element soon goes into cold storage, and the reader will likely forget about it.

It does introduce our main character, Jeanne, the girl who lives on the pier. Her father is of French (ultimately Huguenot) origins, now eking out a living as a fisherman. Her mother is conveniently dead--conveniently for the story, I mean; it doesn't help Jeanne at all. Mom died of some illness, and Dad thought he was going to check out too, so when a small family took him and baby Jeanne in, he decided to marry the daughter of the clan to give Jeanne a mother. Unfortunately, everyone was taken in: Dad was not rich, as his new family supposed, and the new family was more obnoxious than he had realized. So Jeanne gets a friendly but utterly lazy step-mother and eventually a bunch of half-siblings.

Finally her father decides she is in a dead-end position, and he takes her to her rich grandfather, who disapproved of her parents' marriage. Is the grandfather a stern sort who can't help unbending and taking an interest in his granddaughter? Does she have to cope with obnoxious relatives?

What do you think?

Anyway, revelations are revealed and Stuff Happens, some of it rather sad.

Overall, I found The Cinder Pond weaker than Dandelion Cottage, which has a stronger focus. It builds better; events and people here are sometimes rushed on and off stage, and certain loose ends should have been tidied up, in my view. Also, the set-up for the ending is telegraphed a bit too much. It would have been better to share in Jeanne's surprise.

Still, there are some good characters here--Jeanne herself, for the most part, and her friend the Captain, who's actually the best part of the story, in my opinion. It's not a classic, but it is a good read in general.

The Cinder Pond:

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