Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lilian Garis Books for Girls, Nancy Brandon

I got interested in the Lilian Garis books for girls recently, for several reasons. They all have original, different cover art (Thelma Gooch!), with glossy frontispieces and internal illustrations. They're also more affordable/easier to find than some other series books from that period(20s-30s), which happens to be my favorite era of series books. I've also been in the mood for books along the lines of the Patty Fairfield series (I love, adore, and WORSHIP Patty Fairfield, btw), with a focus more on fun and frivolity.

That said, I've never knowingly read a title by Lillian Garis, although she wrote under so many pseudonyms, it's hard to say. I mean, the woman wrote hundreds of juvenile fiction titles, but I've somehow successfully avoided them all. Do I own the entire Melody Lane series? Yes. Have I read a one of them? Nope. Do I own/have read the entire, utterly obscure Arden Blake series, by Cleo, her daughter? Yes. So I have no excuse for this lapse, besides the fact that her writing has the reputation of not aging well/being pretty bad. All of the books in this series consist of pairs of books about a protagonist (i.e., 1st book=Female Name, sequel=Female Name's Noun)

So my first foray with Lil is with Nancy Brandon. Nancy's mother is a businesswoman, and Nancy--who despises all activities domestic--wants to follow in her footsteps. Her first venture is in running a "whatnot shop" on her summer break from what I assume is high school. While doing so, she learns that (a.) business is harder than she thought and (b.) one must attend to at least SOME domestic responsibilities. She makes new friends because she's so great and popular, and there's a vague mystery involving a local professor who disappears at will. It's completely obvious that he's going underground somehow, but all these simple townfolk are evidently too, well, simple for that conclusion. In their defense, though, it's never clear to me why it has to be a secret, anyway.
  • Nancy's mother is young and pretty and mistaken for her younger sister. That part is all very Nan/Patty Fairfield.
  • This book is unusual in that Nancy is fatherless (no explanation, just that her mother is a widow), rather than motherless. I also liked the angle of Nancy's mother working and being successful in the 1920s and Nancy hating housework.
  • In case you couldn't figure it out from the summary, nothing really happens. Which can be okay--almost nothing ever happens in Patty Fairfield--but with Lil at the helm instead of Carolyn Wells, it's just boring.
  • Lil has that annoying tendency to tell rather than show. Which is particularly annoying when she's TELLING us how great Nancy is while SHOWING us that she's rather obnoxious.
  • Isn't it weird to be reading about a Nancy that isn't Drew?
  • The one aspect that I thought was well-written was Nancy's relationship with her younger brother Ted. They alternately fight, then have friendly moments that are rather understatedly tender.
  • Other props? Lil describes characters' looks and fashion constantly. Yellow is Nancy's color, btw. She's tall and willowy, with shiny black curls and dimples. Attire worn through the book includes "a simple blue ratine," a sport costume, with "a very fancy jacket and a light wool and silk plaid skirt," "all the known signs of college life . . . a worsted tam o'shanter (in summer), . . . a sweater to match, with a tan golf skirt and --heavy stockings, ending in good, strong, walking Oxfords," "brand new, quite modish heliotrope dress," "her oldest gingham and her most battered big straw hat," " a frame of grey veils, set over a small summer hat," "yellow and white tissue dress," "black satin bathing suit," "geranium georgette," "silver silk dress and black-satin-trimmed-with-silver grapes hat," and, my personal favorite, a "howling yellow gingham."
  • This book is a romance-free zone. *sigh*
This book was okay, I suppose, if not exactly what I was looking for. I think I'll get the sequel, Nancy Brandon's Mystery, but probably not the other (gulp) sixteen books in the series. Upcoming? I just got Pemberton Ginther's The Jade Necklace, which is very tempting. I also got five of the Josephine Lawrence Books for Girls, by Cupples and Leon, for much the same reasons that I got Nancy Brandon. I know five sounds excessive just to try out, but a seller on ABE had them in dj for $4 each, with nice combined shipping.

I got a first-time home buyer tax credit this year, and some of it went to new porch furniture. So the reading for the last couple of posts (and probably the next several) has taken place with Jules the dachshund on these:

1 comment:

  1. The book may not have much of a plot, but I do lurv the cover. So deliciously vintage!


template by suckmylolly.com : background by Tayler : dingbat font TackODing