Kitty Foyle Is Smart, Sassy Realist

Despite the cheap, yellowing WWII paper on which it was printed, Christopher Morley’s 1939 nostalgic bestseller Kitty Foyle has a remarkably up-to-the-minute feel.

The plot is a mundane and timeless tale of two young lovers, a smart, ambitious girl from Frankford and an old-money Philadelphia guy.

Kitty foregoes a college education to care for her ailing father; that’s what is expected of the only daughter of an half-Irish night foreman’s family.

At her father’s death, Kitty leaves Philly and works her way up as an ad copywriter in an exclusive cosmetics firm. Supporting herself is what is expected of an unmarried daughter.

Wyn fades into the upper crust woodwork; that’s what is expected of the son of one of one of Philadelphia’s best families.

There is no fairy godmother, no happy ever after. In the early 1900s, fairy godmothers were in short supply in America’s cities.

Kitty narrates in staccato. If  Twitter had been around in 1939, Morley might have serialized Kitty Foyle in tweets. Her pithy comments are brutally honest, without illusions. She wishes things had been different,  but she has no self pity: Things happen; people move on.

You’ll like Kitty Foyle, laugh at her wry, self-protective wisecracks,  and wish her love.

Kitty Foyle
By Christopher Morley
Grosset & Dunlap, 1939
340 pages
1939 bestseller #10
My grade: B+
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni
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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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