A Valentine For Vinny
1965, Funk & Wagnalls
Vinnie turned away again, to hide the hopelessness that she felt must show on her face. She felt like crying. Could anything be further from her dreams, she wondered, than working day after day in this pokey little shop?
As autumn arrives in
Her sometime friend Carol has an analysis, comparing her to someone else she knows:
He was 'sleepwalking though life.' And I think maybe that's what you've been doing, Vin. It isn't any fault of yours - it's just that you haven't found what you want to do, or what interests you, really.
Vinnie, roused, recalls that she enjoys organizing things and begins, cautiously, to apply that to the shop. Her efforts to make a good job there pay off; she feels great satisfaction when an impulsive arrangement of baby shower items pays off, and begins to take an interest in the store. A salesman who handles the card sales to Mrs. Gates encourages her, as does reliable Hal Loomis, her old high school pal.
Hal's father had always been something of a puzzle in
Hall clearly sees nothing particularly unsavory in the Loomis family tradition of hucksterism. She has Vinnie fall for Hal finally, after recognizing the impressiveness of Loomis senior.
She turned to look quickly at Hal, wondering if he had that same air of assurance and she had just never bothered to see it.
There are a few red herrings thrown about Loomis, but by the end of the book all is well - Vinnie's dad approves of him as "a sharp cookie" and Vinnie is thrilled the nice developer has donated the land for a golf course to the town.
Vinnie's a believable but unlikable character. Her romance with Hal is more about an unstated but heavily hinted at assurance that he will be a powerful and aggressive man than about romance. She drops her crazy dreams of football star Ted, who never noticed her much anyway, only because he actually stands her up for a hot girl. She's dazzled by a real estate developer's small-town machismo, repulsed by a woman who apparently is the sole unmarried woman over 30 in
They were simply four old friends in their late sixties who were thoroughly enjoying each other and their little get-together. Vinnie sighed happily. In a way, her own life was lightened and enriched at the sight of them, sitting there in the bright sunlight in an atmosphere of warmth and gaiety.
Which brings us to Hall's major flaw as a writer - she's too verbose. She badly needed an editor; the excess words are cumbersome and make the book much less readable than it should be.
Hall is most concerned with Vinnie's initial lack of gumption. This is a sympathetic storyline, a somewhat listless girl finding that she can enjoy herself if she stops relying on other people to create interest in her life. She finds pleasure in discovering what she's good at - promotion in the store, writing to people, etc. - and in creating a life for herself for the first time. She gains an appreciation for what can be gotten out of a seemingly dull, humdrum situation, and learns to enjoy living in the same small town where she grew up. This last is impressive, considering how frequently authors seem incapable of imagining how a young character can survive without going elsewhere. Of course, part of the way she learns to live in
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