V.V.’s Eyes See Behind a Pretty Face

V.V.’s Eyes is a surprising novel from an author whose forté is the unexpected.

As the story opens, a letter written by V. Vivian, M.D., attacking local factory conditions has just been published in the paper.

Within hours, V. V. meets the lovely Carlisle Heth, whose family owns one of those factories. His insightful eyes find her both beautiful and heartless, so taken up with her pursuit of a rich husband she has no time for anything else.

The few times Carlisle encounters V. V., he seems so good, so determined to do right regardless of the personal consequences, that she comes off looking bad, even to herself.

She finally realizes her only value is ornamental; she make a lovely bride, she says, but is totally unqualified to be a wife or mother.

Readers will recognize the set-up and prepare for Henry Sydnor Harrison to turn the adversaries into bride and groom.

Harrison has other plans.

The story is against the backdrop of early twentieth century social changes. Women are going into factory work and office work. The women’s suffrage movement is gathering steam. There’s a sense of opportunities opening as women bond across socioeconomic lines. Harrison gathers all these disparate threads into an exploration of the importance of the value of the individual.

The story is a a bit too sentimental, the narrator a bit too didactic, but there’s no mistaking the power of Harrison’s depiction of a spoiled young woman rising to the challenge of becoming more than just a pretty face.

V. V.’s Eyes
By Henry Sydnor Harrison
Illustrated by Raymond M. Crosby
Approx 500 pages
1913 bestseller #2
Project Gutenberg eBook #13985

@2013 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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