After Noon: A marriage saved, novel ruined

For the first 200 pages, Susan Ertz’s After Noon is an enjoyable, plausible story.

Then it becomes preposterous.


After Noon by Susan Ertz

A. L. Burt, 1926. 338 p. 1926 bestseller #9. My Grade: B-.


black and white sketch of forest scene is front cover of After NoonCharles Lester’s life had walked out on him in Italy, leaving behind a note, a check for a hundred pounds, and their twin baby daughters.

Almost 20 years later, a happily celibate Charles has paid the divorce costs, become a successful accountant, and is enjoying life with daughters Venetia and Caroline.

One evening a Mrs. Lydia Chalmers phones, having been told by one of his clients to look Charles up when she gets to England.

Charles extends appropriate courtesies.

Soon Lydia is a regular part of the Lesters’ lives.

Both daughters marry in haste, Venetia to accompany a soldier who’s posted to India and Caroline to assist a comrade in making war on capitalism.

With the girls gone, Charles and Lydia marry.

Tying the knot apparently shuts off the oxygen to Lydia’s brain.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, she convinces herself Charles regrets their marriage. To test him, she intends to leave him, hoping he’ll come after her.

Nothing in Lydia’s prior behavior prepares readers for such self-destructive stupidity.

Ertz rescues the marriage.

She can’t save the novel.

©2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Explore Time and Eternity in The Galaxy

Graphic image of galaxy

The Galaxy opens with the birth May 10, 1862, of Laura Alicia Deverell, Harry and Rosa Deverell’s first child, and ends with her death on a December evening in 1928.

Harry Deverell is a Pharisaical tyrant to his wife and their children.

The two elder children reject their parents’ religious and moral values. For his rebellion, James is turned out of his home.

Laura sees marriage as the only way a girl can get away from home; she marries sexy Horace Leighton, an armaments manufacturer 19 years her senior.

Five years, two children, and one mistress later, Laura realizes her mistake.

Laura meets a German writer she wants to marry.

Horace refuses to give her a divorce, and Laura refuses to become Arthur’s mistress until her son and daughter are grown.

Laura and Arthur have just moved in together when World War I begins. Arthur sits out the war in a concentration camp.

They have a few years together after the war.

Between the first and last pages of The Galaxy, Susan Ertz records four generations and distills monumental social changes. The incredibly complex characters direct attention to the world around them, allowing readers to reflect on age-old questions of time and eternity.

The Galaxy (published in the UK under the name The Milky Way)
By Susan Ertz
D. Appleton, 1929
397 pages
1929 bestseller #8
My grade: A-
 
Graphic credit: Galaxy by gilderm created in Photoshop®

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni