In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson

In Grandma's Attic by Arleta RichardsonWhen I was little I discovered these books somewhere. I have no idea where I encountered them but I tended to read everything in sight back then so my guess is that somebody gave us the books. I remember thinking that they had amusing stories but I could not remember any of them clearly.

When my son told me he was tired of reading such long stories like The Hobbit I thought these would be perfect for him. It turns out they pretty much were. Each story is short enough that it finished just when he was starting to lose interest.

The stories are amusing in the way that many stories told by people who are reminiscing are. People rarely reminisce about the bad times or the scary things that happened. Because of that the stories are all succinct and leave off with a happy ending.

There is a bit of a frame story, but it’s only cursory. There is a little girl — presumably the author — who either lives with her grandma or spends a great deal of time there. She constantly digs for stories and her grandma constantly obliges. Most of these stories would be just as good without the frame and many of them would be better since the frame parts are frequently the clunkiest.

The beginning of the book seems to feel like each story needs a moral, explicitly stated. Something along the lines of “that is why you should never…” Once the stories get beyond that they are better.

If you are easily offended by early American Christian beliefs then this probably isn’t a book for you. The author wrote about her grandma who grew up in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and her belief system was pretty typical of that time.

That said, the writing is kind of weak. The voice of grandma and the voice of the author are almost indistinguishable. I had a hard time throughout telling when it was the frame story and when it was another of grandma’s tales. There is no physical delimiter in the text and there is always a short moment of confusion who is speaking at the beginning of each chapter.

It seems to be aiming at the fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder but will probably leave most of them disappointed as it carries little of the power that those books have.

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