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 or anyone not from Old Chester.
The Awakening of Helena Richie by Margaret Deland
1906 bestseller #7. Project Gutenberg eBook #6315. My grade: A-.
David is good for Helena. He likes her well enough, though not as much as he likes Dr. Lavendar. Here are the two in conversation:
“That is a Bible picture,” Dr. Lavendar observed.
“Who,” said David, “is the gentleman in the water?”
Dr. Lavendar blew his nose before answering. Then he said that that was meant to be our Saviour when He was being baptized. “Up in the sky,” Dr. Lavendar added, “is His Heavenly Father.”
There was silence until David asked gently, “Is it a good photograph of God?”
David intensely dislikes Mrs. Richie’s widowed brother, Mr. Pryor, whose occasional, brief visits are too long and too frequent for David’s liking.
Margaret Deland makes her characters pop off the page. Even the most disreputable of them has some virtues, and the most virtuous has some flaws.
Helena’s best features, unfortunately, are skin deep: She’s neither bright nor perceptive. You’ll have to read the novel to learn about her flaws.
The Old Chester community becomes the real story.
An A- is too high a grade for this book, but Helena’s spiritual awakening is believable, which is almost unheard of in a religious novel.
And David may be the funniest, serious, little boy to appear between the covers of a book.
© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni