Dear Enemy picks up the story of the John Grier Home that Jean Webster began in her earlier epistolary novel Daddy Long Legs.
The leading characters in that romance have chosen vivacious socialite Sallie McBride to turn the orphanage into a model institution.
Dear Enemy by Jean Webster
Jean Webster, Illus. Century Co., 1915. 1916 bestseller #9.
Project Gutenberg ebook #238. My Grade: B+.
Sallie accepts only until Judy and Jervis can find someone else.
Almost immediately, Sallie locks horns with tradition and rigidity personified by the dour Scots doctor Robin MacRae.
He finds her frivolous, unfit for her job.
His attitude puts Sallie’s back up.
She turns on the charm where it will do the most good.
Before long Sallie has everyone eating out of her hand except Dr. MacRae. Sallie sends him notes addressed, “Dear Enemy.”
When the doctor leaves to take care of some personal business Sallie learns the cause of his moroseness.
For warm-hearted Sallie, it’s just a step from sympathy to love.
For all its romance and charm, Dear Enemy overlays a snapshot of institutional life in early twentieth century America. While not quite Dickensian, it’s a long way from Boys Town.
Sadly, some of the issues Sallie faced youth workers face today.
You couldn’t learn about them any more pleasantly than through Dear Enemy.
© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni