Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Young And Fair

Rosamund du Jardin
1963, J.B. Lippincott Company

Chicago, 1883: 16-year-old Lissa Powell, newly orphaned when her adoptive mother dies, finds a job at high-end department store Colby's. She finds new friends at her boarding house and at work, particulary the vivacious Effie Cunningham. But her biggest conquest is the handsome heir to the store, Greg.

Lissa's an appealing heroine, the setting interesting, the plot is predictable but agreeable. But somehow, there's something missing. There's an abruptness to the conclusion which could be due to the author's death - it was published posthumously, so perhaps there was a missing connection. She makes a good effort to bring a sense of late 19th century America to the book, and succeeds. And there is clothing talk.

Lissa lost no time in changing from her best dress into a white shirtwaist and blue cotton skirt.

But I think the writing is just about adequate. There's no spark, no sparkle to the lines, and no quickness or depth to the action. It moves dully.

She was looking for a room to rent and this familiar neighborhood was as good a place to start as any. In such a shabby, run-down area she should be able to find something cheap.

And there are such hackneyed character descriptions:

... tears filled her greenish-hazel eyes despite her effort to stop them, and the elfin triangular face beneath the curly brown fringe of bangs grew sad.

Fan website
The Malt Shop - du Jardin page
Image Cascade Books (publishers)
About the Author
Rosamond Neal was born in Fairland, Illinois. An early job was in a Chicago department store, Charles A. Stevens & Company. As a freelance writer, she published many stories in major women's magazines, including Red Book, Cosmopolitan, and Good Housekeeping. She also wrote radio scripts, and cowrote one book with her daughter, Judith Carol. There is a school, the Dujardin Elementary School, named after her in Bloomingdale, Illinois.

An old postcard of Charles A. Stevens & Company, which was clearly a model for Colby's in all its old-fashioned retail palace glory.

Other Books
Practically Seventeen
Class Ring
Boy Trouble
The Real Thing
Wait For Marcy
Marcy Catches Up
A Man For Marcy
Senior Prom
Double Date
Double Feature
Showboat Summer
Double Wedding
Wedding In The Family
One Of The Crowd