Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday Forgotten (or Overlooked) Book: NOTHING VENTURE (1932) by Patricia Wentworth


This is essentially a very silly book, but that doesn't stop me loving it. I've read it twice and will probably read it again and again down the line whenever I need a bit of comforting and a reminder that occasionally love triumphs over evil in romantic hackneyed ways which I guess I'm fool enough to enjoy.

Mathew, stop reading here and go do some errands. This book is not for you, m'dear. Catch up with me next week. 

English author Patricia Wentworth is most noted for her Miss Silver series but NOTHING VENTURE is not a Miss Silver book, it is instead one of several stand-a-lones written in the early years. Wentworth was a prolific author, so there's lots and lots of books (some good, some very good, and some not so) to get lost in. These are all basically the sorts of stories which offer up sympathetic characters, a good (occasionally excellent) cozy type mystery and a romance somewhere in the mix. Books as comfort food - you've heard that before and you know what I'm talking about. Sometimes (especially these days) we just need a dose of comfort reading above all else.

There's little in this particular story-line that coincides with any reality, but that's okay.

Here we go:

1) The heroine is Nan Forsyth, a young (early 20's) English woman who is nobly supporting her too weary to work younger sister who is pining for the man she can't marry because none of them have any money.

Meh, you say? Well, yeah. But somehow we love Nan Forsyth because she is so beautifully self effacing in her nobility plus she is very gutsy. She is also a 'real' heroine in the sense that years ago she saved the life of the man she loves and has loved since she was 10 years old - saved him from drowning. But get this: HE DOESN'T KNOW IT WAS SHE WHO SAVED HIM. Through a series of occurrences he has no clue who she was and/or is once they meet again many years later where, coincidentally, she is working as a typist in his lawyer's office.

Next up Nan gets yet ANOTHER chance to step in and save the man she loves again - this time from losing his fortune according to an uncle's idiotic will. You know how that goes.

There are LOTS of coincidences in this story which is why it shouldn't work, but somehow it does - at least for me.

2) The hero - though it's kind of hard to call him that because he's such a blockhead - is Jervis Weare. He has no clue that the young woman he's been forced (well, more or less) to marry (to save his fortune) is the self-same young girl who saved his life once upon a time. In fact, though she keeps on saving his life (several times) once they're married, he prefers to treat her with disdain. After all, she married him for the money to help her sister marry her beau and set off for Australia to live happily ever after - Jervis doesn't know that's what she wanted the money for because Nan doesn't tell him. There's lots of stuff she doesn't tell him because after all, she's the noble heroine.

Anyway, Jervis scoffs at the very idea that anyone would want to kill him though attempts keep happening over and over and it would be obvious to a blind man that he's in some sort of danger. If only he would listen to his wife. Told you he was a blockhead.

But Nan loves him so we put up with him despite our raised eyebrows.

And when they go off to the requisite house in the English countryside, we worry.

3) There's a vamp of course. Her name is Rosamund Carew and she is the blond she-devil of the piece. She's the one who threw over Jervis at the very last minute causing him to marry the next girl who came down the pike which happens to be Nan Forsyth. The uncle's will insists he be married by a certain date or he forfeits the entire estate.

4) The evil bad guy is named Robert Leonard - we know he's a bad dude from the beginning so no spoilers here. This guy is has been up to no good for years, but so far he's failed dismally at killing Jervis. One would think he'd get a clue and quit trying, but he perseveres. Little does he know that he's up against a prescient warrior princess in the guise of a young married girl with a pair of fine gray eyes. She thinks nothing of thrusting herself between her hubby and danger. THAT'S what I love about her. THAT'S what makes the book work for me so very nicely. Even if that hubby walks around clueless and disparaging her warnings. She stands guard.

5) In addition, there's also a heaven sent pal named Frederick Fazackerley, the kind of friend who is always showing up in the nick of time. He's a journalist who travels a lot and had some sort of war related adventures with Jervis.

6) And, last but not least, there's a dog named Bran.

If you can get over the colossal thickheadedness of the hero and accept that the heroine has a finely tuned sense of danger when it comes to her hubby, you will, as I do, love this book. There's just something about it that engages and charms and makes you turn a blind eye to the coincidences and plot contrivances.

One last thing to love about NOTHING VENTURE is the moody mise-en-scene, which is superb. Dark and creepy doings in the night, a huge country house, the wind, the storms, the lightning. Not to mention that the heroine's feelings of encroaching doom are catching. In addition, there are several hairbreadth escapes from certain death and last but certainly not least, a devastating, torturous incarceration in a dank, slimy, underground cave with the tide rising and no escape. These are some wonderfully written chapters. When it came to terror and scene setting, Patricia Wentworth knew her stuff.

Despite a rather abrupt ending, NOTHING VENTURE is worth a good look, especially if you're in a certain sort of mood.

P.S. Nothing wrong with a book in which the hero is a dork and the heroine is the one who comes to the rescue. Kind of refreshing, actually.

Okay, it's Friday once again and time to check in and see what other forgotten and/or overlooked books other bloggers are talking about today. Todd Mason will be doing hosting duties at his blog, Sweet Freedom, this week while author Patricia Abbott takes a needed break. 


23 comments:

  1. this does sound like my cuppa... i've perused several PW's and i see i'll have to expand that list... tx...

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    1. Absolutely. Some of her books are terrific. POISON IN THE PEN (a Miss Silver book) is also an especially good one. As is: SHE CAME BACK and ANNA, WHERE ARE YOU?

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  2. I agree Wentworth is definitely a feel good/comfort read sort of writer - a precursor to the chick flick you could say. Over the last couple of years I have read some of Wentworth's non-series novels, via the Dean Street Press, and actually I found her to be much more innovative and literary in her non-series novels than in her Miss Silver tales.

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    1. Yes, though I do enjoy a Miss Silver story now and again. I've only just recently discovered Wentworth's stand-alones while thinking I must have read them long ago but maybe not. Memory fails me. Next up THE DOWER HOUSE. I find myself sinking more and more into the past while at the same time I know there are contemporary books waiting for me.

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  3. This does sound good; I like the premise. Although I have quite a few Miss Silver books to read (and one non-series book), I will look around for this one too.

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    1. Every now and then they go on sale at the Kindle book store. That's when I scoop in. I'm glad I've re-discovered Wentworth's books. Though I'm kind of pretty sure I read a bunch of them years ago. Who knows? :)

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  4. Amazon has it as an e-book for $2.99. I downloaded it yesterday after reading your review. I'm a Miss Silver fan, but this one sounded interesting / fun.

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    1. Oh I like Miss Silver too. In fact, in rereading Wentworth's books over this past year or two, I've re-discovered just how much I do like her writing. I had read these ages ago but of course, I'd forgotten. :) I love that Amazon has the e-books so reasonably priced. That's where I got my copy too. I hope you enjoy it, Joan. Let me know.

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  5. I haven't read any Wentworth in a while, and this sounds like fun. Summertime fun.

    PS: Here's a blogathon I think you may want to join: https://www.classicfilmtvcafe.com/2018/03/comfort-movie-blogathon.html

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    1. Summertime fun is right, Pat. Terrific book. Oh, thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

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  6. Her Miss Silver books are fantastic...the others, not so much, but I agree with you! Silly but fun. I need that now and again. :)

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    1. Well, some of her Miss Silver books are clunkers, but most are good. I loved NOTHING VENTURE, though.

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  7. Well, you hooked me right from the caveat and dragged me kicking and screaming all the way thru, and...sold me a book!! If it's on Kindle that is. Your enthusiasm is infectious, Yvette--even if you have suckered me twice before. Maybe I'M the blockhead!!

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    1. I feel guilty when you don't like a book I recommend, Mathew.

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  8. Kindle evidently has every book she's written except Nothing Venture. Pfui. So I downloaded Dead or Alive. I think I'll read it for next week!

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    1. I got it on Kindle, Mathew. Check again. It's definitely there. I think I read DEAD OR ALIVE at some point but don't remember anything about it.

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    2. Finished Dead or Alive last nite. Liked it a lot, altho it didn't have to be so long. Too much anxieting, but I still liked it. Writing my report today! (I'll check again for Nothing Venture, even tho I did look pretty meticulously last week)

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    3. Huh. Found it, but it took an extra click. At first it came up that Nothing Ventured was not found, assuming I'd misspelled Venture. Then I clicked the tiny link below to the seven results for "Patricia Wentworth nothing," and lo, there it was! That's what happens when you let bots do the thinking.

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    4. Oh, I'm so glad you liked DEAD OR ALIVE, Mathew. Can't wait to read your report. She did write some good stuff, but you have to pick and choose. I hope you enjoy NOTHING VENTURE (It's VENTURE, not VENTURED, that's possibly why you couldn't find it.)

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  9. You might want to check out the vivid, dramatic mystery covers from the old days posted at Kittling Books. Some excellent ones displayed.

    In those days, a cover just screamed out for a reader to buy that book.

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    1. The good old days of great cover illustrators. :)

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  10. There are some real doozies over at Kittling Books. Covers today are so boring by comparison.

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