August 23, 2005

Ruby in the Smoke

The Ruby in the Smoke
Phillip Pullman


(August 23, 2005)

A delightful Victorian romp. Sally Lockhart is sixteen, a spunky and serious middle-class orphan whose late father taught her a variety of useful things: accounting, Hindustani, marksmanship. Pullman is out for fun this time, and he has plenty of it, in flavors ranging from nifty dialogue to delicious villains to clever plays on convention. When Sally's intolerable guardian is rude and unfair to her, Sally speaks her piece and packs her bag -- and she gets away with it (as countless girls did, and continue to do) without having a censorious author or the universe punish her. The guardian is not worth knowing, and so the acquaintance ceases and we make other arrangements.