The Tin Soldier Explores the Why of The Great War

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The Tin Soldier is one of the better bestsellers about why The Great War was fought.

The novel’s centerpiece is a love-at-first sight story. Jean McKenzie and Derry Drake meet while Derry is tracking down his father who’s off on a binge.

Jean has one qualm: Derry hasn’t enlisted. Is he a slacker?

Jean’s widowed father, a doctor, is altogether too fond of his office nurse, Hilda, whom Jean distrusts. Jean would prefer her mother’s cousin Emily Bridges as their companion, even as her step-mother.

Emily is too clear-headed to think Dr. McKenzie would ever regard her as anything but household help. Anyway, she has a toy shop to run, no easy task when the best toys are German-made and Americans won’t buy them.

When Derry’s father has a stroke, Dr. McKenzie sends Hilda to nurse him.

Hilda knows Dr. McKenzie won’t marry her; she thinks rich General Derry may.

Temple Bailey makes each character entirely plausible, gives them challenges, and lets them grow.

Bailey wraps the plot in the American flag. In the pen of a less able writer, the effect would be laughable. But when Bailey writes that women “won’t know what suffering means until your men begin to come home,” it sounds real and true.

The Tin Soldier
by Temple Bailey
Illustrations by F. Vaux Wilson
New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1918
1919 bestseller #8
Project Gutenberg ebook#18056
My grade: B+

© 2014 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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