Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Country Cousin

The Country Cousin

Betty Cavanna, il. Joseph Cellini (cover)

1967, William Morrow and Company

"You have this body in a raw silk right now," Eddie said of a sample he called a "very strong dress," apparently meaning it had been especially successful in the summer line. "Now we're doing it in a light-weight wool."

17-year-old Mindy Hubbard is disconsalate on her brother's wedding day. Jack, at 22, has always been her buddy and her shining star. Now, watching him move off into a new life, she's aware that it's past time she made her own mark. But how, stuck as she is on her family's beautiful but remote Berks County, PA farm?

The answer comes when a sympathetic cousin, Alix Moore, asks her to come stay and work at her dress shop, The Country Cousin, on Philadelphia's Main Line. Mindy, aware she's a little overweight, goes on a diet and sets in to learn the dress shop business. Through her mistakes and trips to New York City's garment district, Mindy learns quite a bit about the business of selling clothes, but it's through Bob, the friendly son of a dressmaker, that she realizes what she wants to do - design. He's also the first person to drop the name Parson's, and give the recent high school graduate an idea of where she'd like to further her education.

On the romance front, the newly svelte Mindy dates a bored but handsome Peter Knox, the son of a wealthy Main Line family who resents the idea of anything changing his beloved foxhunting region.

A dark, remarkably handsome boy with imperious eyebrows and the golden bloom of an early summer tan. Peter seemed aware that most girls thought him attractive, so he made no special effort to be charming, behaving correctly out of habit but barely concealing a deep-rooted ennui.

Mindy, while wistful over his good looks, quickly learns he's a jerk, but takes some convincing that shaggy-haired, bespectacled Dana is the right choice.

And here you have a perfect meeting of the old and new - the sixties hair and pseudo-intellectual glasses are overtaking the perfect physical specimen. Cavanna, you must admit, was game to change with the times. In her older books, Mindy would have wrinkled her nose at shaggy and gone tripping after Peter.

Minor quibbles - Mindy's unnervingly amiable at being told she's too fat by her cousin, and there's a feeble attempt to conceal the obvious nepotism of Alix just happening to choose her family member out of all the store's staff to go to Paris with her. If it's about family, just admit it, already.

About the Author

Cavanna grew up in southern New Jersey, attended Rutgers and worked for the Westminster Press in Philadelphia. The store in this book really did exist; The Country Cousin was a dress shop in Bryn Mawr and Strafford, PA, owned by Dorothy Lewis Lummis. The Bryn Mawr location closed down around 1996, according to the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society History Quarterly Digital Archives.

Other Books

Accent On April

Almost Like Sisters

Angel On Skis

The Boy Next Door

A Breath Of Fresh Air

Fancy Free

Jenny Kimura

Mystery At Love's Creek

The Scarlet Sail

Passport To Romance

Stars In Her Eyes

A Time For Tenderness

Fashion note

The brand John Meyer is mentioned several times. This was a women's wear company based in Norwich, CT, and one of the places Perry Ellis worked.


Merion Cricket Club (site of wedding reception)

Photo, exterior, Merion Cricket Club (clearly, the bride's family was not poor)



No comments:

Post a Comment