No Charm Left in Mrs. Wiggs’ Cabbage Patch

Nothing about Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch was what I expected. I was prepared for a quaint, Beatrix Potter-type tale for children. Boy, was I surprised.

The Cabbage Patch is the city slum where Mrs. Wiggs and her five children have lived since her drunken husband died and her country cottage burned to the ground.

On his deathbed, Jim, the family breadwinner, tells his mother to seek help from “The Christmas lady” who brought them basket from her church. Lucy, Jim’s Christmas lady, writes a newspaper story about the family’s situation. Contributions flood in that allow the family to scrape by for a year.

Meanwhile, a man helps Billy Wiggs and his sister get jobs that will allow the family to get along without accepting charity.

When Lucy meets Billy’s kind “Mr. Bob,” he is none other than the fiancé Lucy spurned for keeping bad company. The lovers are reunited and the book ends in a rose-colored glow.

Much of this 1901 story is foreign to today’s readers: horse carts, peg-legs, home Sunday Schools, for example. And I’m sure the moral issues over which Lucy and Bob split would be totally incomprehensible.

Despite its charming title, this sappy won’t appeal today’s readers, adult or juvenile.

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch
Alice Hegan Rice
Century, 1901
160 pages
Bestseller #2 for 1902,
Bestseller #6 for 1903
Project Gutenberg ebook #4377
My Grade: C-
© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni