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, […]

Greatheart lacks great solution

In Greatheart, Ethel M. Dell has created characters readers will care about and eagerly follow, hoping for their happiness. But, as often happens to Dell, when it’s time to end the story, she doesn’t know how to solve the problem she plotted. Greatheart by Ethel M. Dell 1918 bestseller #6. Project Gutenberg ebook #13497. My […]

The Snake Pit still terrifies 70 years later

Mary Jane Ward’s The Snake Pit is a powerful story about mental illness, as terrifying in a quiet way as anything by Stephen King. The novel takes readers inside the mind of one mentally ill person, Virginia Cunningham. The Snake Pit by Mary Jane Ward Random House, 1946. 278 p. 1946 bestseller #10. My grade: […]

The Marriage of William Ashe

From its title and the author’s designation of herself as Mrs. Humphrey Ward, readers might expect The Marriage of William Ashe to be a light romance. They would be wrong. The Marriage of William Ashe by Mrs. Humphrey Ward Albert Sterner, illus., 1905, 570 pp (approx.) 1905 bestseller #1. My grade: A William  Ashe is […]

Private Worlds explores the craziness of the sane

On one level, Private Worlds is a romance whose outcome is never is doubt. On another level, it’s a realistic story of alliances and jealousies in a closed world where the outcomes are unpredictable. As the story opens, Jane Everett is waiting to hear whether Alex MacGregor has been named superintendent of the mental hospital […]

Kings Row peeps behind Victorian era lace curtains

Kings Row is the county seat of a mid-west town. At the turn of the 20th century, it was the sort of place that people found a good to raise their children. Author Henry Bellamann takes us behind the lace curtains for a different view. Parris Mitchell’s parents are dead. His twice-widowed grandmother brings him […]