Islands in the Stream: One man, three places

Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream is a three-part novel. Its sections are connected by characters and settings, but are totally different in tone. The first section, Bimini, introduces Thomas Hudson, a twice-divorced painter living happily with his personal devils by keeping to a rigid schedule for working and drinking. His three sons come to […]

The Younger Set: Friends and marriage

The Younger Set is both a romance and a love story. The romance is between a divorced man, Capt. Philip Selwyn, 35, and his sister’s ward, Eileen Erroll, 19. The love story that of Selwyn and his ex-wife, Alixe. The Younger Set by Robert W. Chambers G.C. Wilmhurst, illus. D. Appleton, 1907. 1907 bestseller #8. […]

The Awakening of Helena Richie joins orphan to widow

When Dr. Lavendar needs a home for orphan David Allison, he thinks the 7-year-old might be good for young, pretty widow, Helena Richie, newly arrived in Old Chester. Sam Wright, son of Mrs. Richie’s landlord, thinks Mrs. Richie might be good for him. At 23, “Sam’s Sam” is ready to fall in love with anything […]

Heart of Rachael divorced from self-awareness

Many early twentieth century novels explored the then still controversial topic of divorce, but none with the perseptivity of Kathleen Norris’s The Heart of Rachael. Norris sets her novel among the Long Island country club set in the halcyon days before World War I. The Heart of Rachael by Kathleen Norris  1916 bestseller #10. Project […]

The Blue Window charms

The Blue Window opens with the funeral of widow Elizabeth Carew at age 41, and ends with the marriage of her daughter, Hildegarde. Between the two events is a predictable but charming romance given piquancy by Temple Bailey’s failure to establish a consistent point of view. The Blue Window by Temple Bailey Penn Publishing, 1926. […]

After Noon: A marriage saved, novel ruined

For the first 200 pages, Susan Ertz’s After Noon is an enjoyable, plausible story. Then it becomes preposterous. After Noon by Susan Ertz A. L. Burt, 1926. 338 p. 1926 bestseller #9. My Grade: B-. Charles Lester’s life had walked out on him in Italy, leaving behind a note, a check for a hundred pounds, […]

B.F.’s Daughter is old at 70

I suspect the reason B.F.’s Daughter made the bestseller list in 1946 had more to do with post-war malaise than with John P. Marquand’s writing, good as it is. Though its story seems out-of-date, the novel is still good reading.   B.F.’s Daughter by John P. Marquand Little, Brown, 1946. 439 p. 1946 bestseller #9. […]