The Portygee Proves Any Time’s a Good Time to Grow Up

In outline, The Portygee sounds like a standard romance, but Joseph C. Lincoln turns it into a sweet, funny story about a boy and his grandfather growing up together.

When his opera-star father dies, Alberto Miguel Carlos Speranza, 17,  is sent to live with his grandparents in Cape Cod.  Al knows nothing of his parents’ history and was not even aware his  grandparents were living.

Al learns Lote Snow had disowned his daughter for eloping with a  “Portygee” (Lote’s term for foreigner). Lote’s prejudice against foreigners extends to his grandson.

Al’s boarding school manners  make him a hit with the rich summer people, but don’t endear him to the other employees of his grandfather’s lumber company.

Al’s artistic temperament is at odds with his grandfather’s practicality, but his grandmother intercedes for him. Pretty, level-headed Helen Kendall’s friendship helps, too. Eventually, Lote realizes if he’s not careful he will lose his grandson as he lost his daughter .

In the pen of a less astute writer, these characters would have been stereotypes. Lincoln breathes life and quirkiness into his cast that elevate the novel from a string of cliches to reminder that people can grow up at any age.

The Portygee
by Joseph C. Lincoln
D. Appleton, 1920
361 pages
Project Gutenberg ebook #3263
1920 bestseller #7
My grade B+

Note: Although I found a hard copy of the book (hence the blurry photo), it is easier to find online.

© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Project Gutenberg

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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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