Max Unbelievable in Trousers or Skirt


Paris rooftops
Paris Rooftops

In a first class compartment of a night train into Paris, a standoffish youth in common Russian clothes attracts attention. The following day, one of the passengers, Ned Blake, runs into the lad again. Thinking the lad too inexperienced to be left on his own, Ned offers to show him Paris.

Ned and Max become chums, despite the difference in their ages and outlooks. Intelligent readers realize almost immediately that Max  is really the run-away Russian Princess Davorska, though Ned never has a clue.

Max says he has come to Paris seeking fame as an artist. Ned warns, “Failure may be cruel, but success is crueller still.”

Is Ned right? Will fame be cruel to Max?

Readers never find out.

Katherine Cecil Thurston takes the novel in a quite different direction.

Instead of presenting Max as ambitious artist, she presents Max as an emotionally scared victim of an abusive husband, posing as a male to avoid a physical relationship with a man.

But Thurston also has Max willingly strolling arm in arm with Ned, spending hours with him. That’s not the behavior of a man-hater. Nor is Ned’s failure to recognize Max is a female the behavior of the observant man Thurston made him out to be in the opening chapter.

In the end Max turns out to unsatisfactory as a love story and equally unsatisfactory as feminist propaganda.

By Katherine Cecil Thurston
Illustrated by Frank Craig
Harper & Brothers, 1910
1910 bestseller #4
Project Gutenberg EBook #14054
my grade: C

Photo credit: Paris Rooftops by linder6580

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni


Published by

Linda Aragoni

I'm passionate about helping people learn through the medium of nonfiction writing. Although I occasionally have an idea of my own, I mostly build education tools by recycling and repurposing other folks' ideas.

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