Peter intrigues by what it might have been

Nobody runs over a child if he can help it. Even a thief will bring you back your pocket-book if you trust him to take care of it. It is the trusting that does it. Few men, no matter how crooked, can resist the temptation of reaching, if only for a moment, an honest man’s level.

Peter is a romance, albeit with twinges of philosophy, but Peter is not one of its lovers.

Peter: A Novel of Which He is Not the Hero

by F. Hopkinson Smith. 1909 bestseller #9. Project Gutenberg eBook #4516.
My grade: B-.

Peter Grayson, a bald, 60-year-old banker, meets a young Marylander working in his uncle’s stock brokerage company.

Jack Breen has no love for Wall Street, but he has no training for any other white-collar work and thinks himself above manual labor.

Birdseye view of Lower Manhattan painted
Birdseye view of Lower Manhattan in 1914 by artist Richard Rummell.

When Jack learns a friend was bankrupted by a dirty deal his uncle put over, he resigns and moves out of Uncle Arthur’s home.

Peter gets Jack a job working for an engineer with a beautiful daughter.

Jack is smart and brave, but inclined to put his brain into neutral where people he likes are concerned.

When Jack’s friend Garry Minott commits suicide after unwise speculation leads him to embezzle, Jack rushes to save his friend’s reputation for the sake of Garry’s infant son.

F. Hopkinson Smith starts out well with plot and characterization, but he never lets either develop their potential.

Smith doesn’t let Jack learn, for example, how his lame-brained attempts to raise cash affect his future father-in-law’s business, though Smith lays all the groundwork that lesson.

Peter remains nothing more than a pleasant diversion, albeit one with very intriguing “what ifs.”

©2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Felix O’Day mysteriously freshens biblical plot

Who is the middle-aged, British gent who says he’s too broke to pay his rent?

The one who looks for someone each night among patrons of Broadway’s theaters and restaurants?

Felix O’ Day by F. Hopkinson Smith

Project Gutenberg ebook #5229. 1915 bestseller #7. My grade: B.

It’s Felix O Day.

The novel of which Felix is titular character is a romance that derives its interest mainly from the Felix’s mysterious behavior.

While Felix is negotiating a loan at a secondhand  shop, he tells owner Otto Kling some of his merchandise is undervalued. Impressed, Otto asks Felix to come work for him.

Otto arranges for Felix to room across the street with Kitty and John Cleary, who own a moving company.

It’s a happy arrangement.

Felix mostly enjoys the work.

He is charmed by Maisie, Otto’s 10-year-old daughter.

He learns to know and value Kitty and the other Fourth Street business owners.

One day an unexpected discovery leads Felix to share his secret with the local priest, Father Cruse. That, and advice from Kitty, lead to a happy ending.

Felix O’Day kept me up past my bedtime. Though the parable of the lost sheep post’s familiar,  author F. Hopkinson Smith makes Felix, with his inbred class-consciousness, sufficiently human to make it feel fresh.

© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni