Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jane Allen #3, Jane Allen, Center

Henry Allen, Jane's father, has funded a scholarship this year, which has been awarded to a Polish violinist, Helka Podonsky. They soon Americanize it, at her insistance, to Helen Powderly, which is later further nickmaned to Nell. Of course, Marian, who is now the flunky of Brazilian Dolorez Vincez, has to plot the downfall of this girl for no reason. Helen has an annoyingly artistic temperament (which doesn't help Marian's insinuations of possible madness) and a mysterious secret. I oddly don't think I'm surprising anyone when I tell you it turns out she's secretly a Polish noble on the run from sinister Russians. In the end, Jane of course manages to reunite Helen with her mother, a brilliant soprano.

I had originally thought it was the next book where the original characters all disappear, but it's actually this one.The only explanation given is the first bullet point below. Adrienne and Maizie are mentioned in passing at the beginning, the others not at all. The only characters remaining from the previous two books are Jane herself, Judith, Marian, and Mrs. Weatherbee, who now has evolved from a house mother of sorts to a more administrative/faculty position. I have no great attachment to the original characters, but I can't see the point of switching them out for equally nondescript new ones. The writing style in this book is also less old fashioned, with snappier, more slangy dialogue.
  • "But let's to Wellington. I do wonder how many of the old set will be back? The war has changed so many homes, we may have to take over an entirely new contingent."
  • "Now Judith had wonderful teeth. In fact, she might claim championship in the tooth beauty contest, did Wellington carry such a sport, but Helka's!  They were so small, so even and so white, matched pearls indeed. Thoughts of the pure grain foods of Poland filtered through Jane's mind, while Judith wondered about Polish dentifrice." Again, there are moments of awesome humor, but it's not consistent.
  • "The art student called herself Anaa Kole, and just why she insisted on the second "a" to her otherwise plain Ana had not yet been discovered by Judith. It looked to her to be a waste of type, that could not vocally be made use of."
  • "Of course, bobbed hair was so comfy, and so becoming, too bad it was not the general style, mused Judith, patting her own heavy coil, that would slip down her neck every time she attempted to relax outside of bed quilts." "Judith and hairpins were always at painful odds."
  • Since coloring is such a hot topic here lately, Helen has violet eyes and curly, dark hair. Elizabeth Taylor, I guess?
  • New freshmen: Dorothy "Dick" Ripple, Mary Louise "Weasis" Blair, and Grazia (Grawcia) St. Clear. All the nicknames are either unpleasant or men's names? There's also Ted, Tom, and Dozia.
  • "Every experimenter knows hair dye affects the blood in color changes, affecting the eyes disastrously. Also, but it seems unkind to suggest such a catastrophe, hair-dye has an immediate action on the sight. Cicily Weldon could not tell time last year after one trip to New York when her hair was "fixed up!" I warn you in advance that the evils of the beauty parlor are extrapolated on in the next book.
  • Dolorez Vincez takes over from Marian Seaton as primary villain. She's a fast older girl from South America. She gets disqualified from the basketball team when it's discovered that she was a teacher of athletics (a "professional") at Blindwood, where Helen previous studied.
  • Dol and Marian have made a plan to canvass for business for *gasp* an evil beauty parlor. File this away for the next book.
  • The book only covers the first semester, ending with, "But a new story was unfolded in the second half of that eventful year. And what happened to 'Jane Allen, Junior,' will be told in our next volume of that title." I'm pretty sure this isn't what happens, but we shall see.
  • Ebook available here. Frontis is by Thelma Gooch, who is familiar to me as the illustrator of Blythe Girls and Doris Force books.

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