Jan. 20th, 2015

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In 2014, I made a resolution to read all of the out of copyright e-books I've amassed. This was number one.

The Gorgeous Girl, by Nalbro Bartley (1920)

Steven O'Valley is a self-made millionaire who has won his war fortune to earn the hand of Beatrice, the beautiful daughter of his billionaire former boss. Mary Faithful works as his office manager, motivated by her common sense and her unrequited love for him. Side characters include Trudy, a tough as nails flapper who boards at Mary's house and is determined to enter good society by any means necessary, and her boyfriend, the selfish and idiotic Gaylord who gets by on the good name of his once wealthy family.


Many books of the twenties are also treaties on the changing role of women at the time and this was no exception. The final conclusion was a bit unclear but it was a lot about the Gorgeous Girls, young rich girls raised to be unfit for anything but having a "good time" and the business women or "commercial nun" working hard and trying to hide their romantic longings.

But I liked the prose and the shifting POV. It was paced pretty well and I liked the characters too. I would definitely really Another book by this author.

I can't find a picture of the cover, but there were four fabulous illustrations inside.

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"The Gorgeous Girl had known only the most gorgeous side of life."

Quotes )

Contains spoilers, but let's be honest, most people aren't going to read this book anyway!
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MARRIED? By Marjorie Benton Cooke (1921)
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Marcia Livingston is one of the most celebrated heiresses in New York City, but all her money and social success can’t substitute for a fulfilling life. Dennis Shawn is the manager of the Livingston’s ranch in New Mexico, and can find nothing in the world he loves as much as the ranch. The Judge, Marcia’s guardian and Dennis’ employer cooks up a plan to trick the two into a ‘marriage by proxy’, which he hopes will become real. Side characters include Marcia’s friend and employee Mary Jane, who helps the Judge with his scheme, and Williams and Chuck, a mysterious misogynist bachelor and a young Broadway actor, who work at the ranch. Chuck is my favorite.
This book was a very interesting set-up. It began by alternating the POV between two seemingly unconnected characters and settings: Marcia Livingston, a wealthy New York heiress, flitting restlessly from one pet project to another and never finishing anything, and Dennis Shawn, the practical 'man's man' Irish manager of a dude ranch in New Mexico, who loved nothing as well as the ranch. The two storylines continue to have nothing to do with each other - Marcia starts a theater school, and gets engaged out of boredom to a rich nitwit she's known forever, Shawn and his two friends foil a plot to kidnap him and get him to leave the ranch - until over halfway through the book. At this point Marcia and Shawn are drawn together by the Judge who loves them both like a son and daughter and plans with Marcia's friend/employee to trick them into a 'marriage by proxy', which they hope will become a real thing. (Spoiler: It does.) Eventually they learn to love each other, but not after Shawn has carried Marcia off to his cabin and forced her to learn to cook and fend for herself. Marcia is stubborn and headstrong, and has never had to do anything that she didn't want to do, but eventually the beauty of the wilderness makes her come around. (And a last minute medical emergency).

This book had a lot of similar themes to Gorgeous Girl, and it was written in the same 1920/1921 period. Multiple characters wish that Marcia would lose all her money so that she could learn how to work for a living,lamenting that Marcia has been spoiled by all her wealth, because she's never had to do anything that meant anything, and that she has the intelligence to become a 'real woman' as long as she could meet a 'real man'. Shawn promises to bring her out of her 'sham world' of money, artifice and vapidness into the 'real world' where people work hard and love harder.
Dennis shares a similarity to Steve O’Valley from the Gorgeous Girl. They are both the type of man referred to in the text as ‘Cave Men’, which seems to mean fond of hard work and earning their living, with no patience for rich, useless women like Beatrice or Marcia. The difference is that Marcia has the inner resources and strength of character to go with Steven and exchange her gorgeous life for something realer and more fulfilling, whereas Beatrice can’t or won’t.
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”quote” )


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