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 hopeful that the novel was going to be better than the pabulum I expect from Eleanor H. Porter.
I was disappointed.
The Road to Understanding by Eleanor H. Porter
Mary Greene Blumenschein, Illus., Houghton Mifflin, 1917. 373 pp. 1917 bestseller #4. Project Gutenberg eBook #35093. My grade: B-.
Burke Denby is rich and spoiled; Helen Barnet is poor and spoiled.
Their fairy tale romance turns sour: Neither has life skills, self-control, or experience considering anyone’s perspective but their own.
Other than giving Burke an entry-level job in his business, John Denby does not help the newlyweds.
The birth of their daughter adds to the strain.
John Denby steps in with an offer of separate vacations for the pair at his expense: Burke to come with him to Alaska, Helen to take the baby and go visit in her hometown.
Helen and baby Betty disappear without a trace.
Burke never sees either again until Betty is a grown woman.
After establishing the personalities and conflict, Porter doesn’t let them develop as their natures and situations suggest. She has the spoiled Burke happily accepted as a regular guy by the men at his father’s plant, and Helen learn to manage servants so she need not have to cook for her family.
The book ends with a happy family reunion as believable as a zombie Santa Claus.
© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni