Honor Arundel J. Russell - Essay

J. Russell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

When Honor Arundel died earlier this year we lost an author who has contributed much for the older girl to read and enjoy. Her books will not win any of the great literary prizes of the children's book world, but they do deserve mention for their humanity and popularity. The ones for older girls are sensitive; in them ordinary girls can associate with the heroines in the books, for they are no artificial paper-board characters but full of feeling and the quixotic nature of the average teenager.

The High House was the first and I thought one of the best of the novels…. The second two books [in the Emma series] do not seem to have the deep sensitivity of the first and particularly in Emma's Island, I found the diversification of the characters at times a little confusing. (pp. 367-68)

The author is less assured over her handling of the delicate situation in The Longest Weekend. Eileen and her three year old illegitimate daughter are presented with all too easy a solution to their problems, and not all girls finding themselves in this situation can feel as happy and self-sufficient as Eileen does.

It is not easy to look at an author's work so near to the end of their career and make a valid judgment for all time. It will be the test of time which will prove whether, as I feel sure, this author can talk to teenage girls at a level they can understand and to which they respond. If her books are still in print in years to come, are still on the library shelves, and above all are still read, then we can be sure that they are worthwhile…. Teenage girls need to hear what this dedicated writer has to say to them. (p. 369)

J. Russell, "Honor Arundel," in The Junior Bookshelf, Vol. 37, No. 6, December, 1973, pp. 367-69.