My rating: 4 of 5 stars
You’re a Brick, Angela! is an encyclopedic review of girls’ books between 1839 and 1985 and is practically essential for anybody interested in the study of children’s literature.
Cadogan and Craig provide a sweepingly brisk overview of the girls’ story – and they’re not particularly tactful when it comes to discussing their likes and dislikes. They deliver some stinging judgements that border on the vitriolic. X is ridiculous. Y is awful. Z is frankly nasty. Whilst I’m never afraid of people offering an opinion (heavens above, I’m doing it right now), comments like these in a book of this weight just jar. A book published in 1885 and read by somebody in 1885 and then in 1985 will naturally have different reactions. It’s rare that Cadogan and Craig acknowledge the role of the reader being as equally important as the role of the text – and I feel this is a key deficit in this book.
It’s a shame because both Cadogan and Craig write knowledgeably and fascinatingly. Their discussions of the Girls’ Own papers, for example, are superbly interesting and I found the sections on Angela Brazil to be a joy to read.
I do recommend this book but it’s one that needs to be read with confidence in your own critical abilities. And maybe a pinch of salt.