Mrs. Mike is a charming teacher

In Mrs. Mike, Benedict and Nancy Freedman created a story in which humor and heroism struggle against tragedy and terror. The good wins, but the price is heavy. In 1907, 16-year-old Katherine Mary O’Fallon leaves Boston for Calgary, Canada promising her mother she would “dress warm and keep dry and not go out into the […]

The Arrangement: an Elia Kazan production in novel form

The Arrangement is The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit without any clothes on. Elia Kazan’s story gets off to a fast and sordid start. The Arrangement: A Novel by Elia Kazan Stein and Day, 1967, 544 p. My grade: C+. “Indispensible Eddie” Anderson, an advertising executive (also known as Evans Arness, muckraking magazine writer, […]

Doomsday: Heritage and modernity at war and in love

Ex-soldier Arnold Furze has spent five years trying to bring Doomsday, a hillside farm, back to productivity. Arnold falls for the pretty daughter of one of his milk customers in the cheap residential development below his farm. Doomsday by Warwick Deeping Alfred A Knopf, 1927, 367 pp. 1927Bestseller #3 My grade B+. Mary Viner is […]

The Definite Object is definitely second-rate

  The American setting of The Definite Object allows Jeffery Farnol to diversity his usual cast of minor characters with immigrants, gangsters, slumlords, and professional pugilists. The variety adds complexity to the novel without noticeably changing Farnol’s usual story line. The Definite Object: A Romance of New York by Jeffery Farnol 1917 bestseller #9. Project […]

His Family is a kind of immortality

Roger Gale came to New York at 17 from New Hampshire looking for a business he could turn into the American dream. He made it happen. He also married. His Family by Ernest Poole MacMillan, 1917. 1917 bestseller #7. Project Gutenberg ebook #14396. My grade A-. Three daughters and 20 years later, Judith died, leaving […]

In the Wilderness character tells

In the Wilderness is an antidote to salacious later twentieth century bestsellers. But Robert Hichens’ novel is strong stuff that many readers may find hard to swallow. In the Wilderness by Robert Hichens 1917 bestseller #7. Project Gutenberg EBook #4603] My grade: A- Dion Leith is passionately in love with Rosamund Everard, who finds him […]

The Road to Understanding is a road not taken

If Burke Denby had not been given all the frosted cakes and toy shotguns he wanted at the age of ten, it might not have been so difficult to convince him at the age of twenty that he did not want to marry Helen Barnet. That opening sentence of The Road to Understanding made me […]