badgerbag: (lesbiaaaans!)
[personal profile] badgerbag
This isn't getting a huge writeup from me, but I read it last night and it was fairly amusing.

Betty Wales is a college girl at Hampton and is one of those all-around nice girls, not specially talented at anything except having lots of friends and seeing the best in everyone. These books are very strange and amusing for their pictures of College Life in whenever it was - I think the very early 1900s. Basketball is AWESOME. The girls are constantly running around in shorts doing physical culture exercises. Then they rush to take out their pigtails and 'gym' suits to don a sweet white linen ensemble to take tea with a faculty member. The amateur theatrical fundraisers also rule. There's a bohemian Greenwich Village girl who is super sophisticated and popular.

Freshman and sophomore girls have official "crushes" on upperclasswomen, who invite them to dinners and dances and bring them bunches of violets. The crushes are much discussed and some teachers feel they aren't appropriate! The best bits of the book are when the girls tease each other about their crushes, or when their nervousness and hero-worship is described in detail.
" Oh, Eleanor ! ' said Betty reproachfully.
" As if any one could improve you ! '

Eleanor's evening dress was a pale yellow
satin that brought out the brown lights in her
hair and eyes and the gleaming whiteness of
her shoulders. There were violets in her hair,
which was piled high on her head, and more
violets at her waist ; and as she stood full in
the light, smiling at Betty's earnestness, Betty
was sure she had never seen any one half so
lovely.


In this volume: plagiarism! Eleanor Watson, the snobby girl, screws up! Should Betty rescue her? Should Eleanor's screwup be covered up so as not to ruin her life? What about the honor code of the school? Nothing special happens and there's no big mystery or Adventure. Betty does go on the train to New York City, gets caught in a blizzard, stays by herself in a hotel, and visits the bohemian editor of a new literary magazine and is *only minorly sexually harassed*.

Only one girl Helen Adams, cares about learning anything, and she's a grind and a 'dig' who Betty has only partly saved from total geekdom and taught to be a little more like other girls who like normal girl things. (UGH!)

Here's the full text of Betty Wales, Sophomore but I recommend starting with Betty Wales, Freshman. I've read the Senior one too. These books feel a bit odd and clumsy and it's hard to understand sometimes what the heck's going on.

badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I remember Ruth Fielding as being bold, thoughtful, creative, brave, and somewhat of a no-nonsense personality, who works hard on achieving financial independence. She was an orphaned teenager who comes to a small town to live with her mean, crusty old uncle Jabez Potter who runs the local mill on the banks of the Lumano River. His arthritic, hunchbacked, ancient, warm-hearted housekeeper "Aunt Alviry" is not actually Ruth's aunt but is a servant and for a long time is the only person who loves Ruth. Uncle Jabez doesn't believe in educating girls. But Ruth manages to win him over somehow. Anyway, Ruth goes off to boarding school at Briarwood Hall with her rich, beautiful motor-car-driving friend Helen Cameron, makes friends with everyone, and ends a terrible schoolgirl rivalry by creating just one big sorority, the Sweetbriars. I seem to recall their moonlight and candlelight ceremony where they're hanging out in togas by a graceful statue, with a harp. Ruth goes on to have a lot of adventures that center around her solving mysteries, helping poor girls get an education. Her companions include the jolly and popular plump girl, Jennie; and the slightly bitter lame girl, Mercy, as well as a rich friend with a cute brother and a motorcar. Nothing new there, right? But...

Ruth Fielding book cover

The cool thing about Ruth Fielding is that she's a scriptwriter for moving pictures! She saves her school when a building burns down by writing a moving picture scenario for Mr. Hamilton from the Aelectron Corporation! And goes on to become a successful writer, even transitioning from silent film to the talkies.

Note the fashion in the cover picture. It reminds me of the book from the Betsy-Tacy series where Betsy and the other girls try to look like Gibson Girls, with their dresses gracefully draped instead of being tightly fitted, and a "droop" to their figure, slouching rather than standing up straight.

I believe this might be the series where all the girls make graduation dresses from simple white cheesecloth so that the poor girls won't feel outshone by rich girl satin and lace. Or is that Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm? There was an amazingly cunning plan for their class valedictorian, Mercy the lame girl, to be able to graduate on stage by the clever and unprecedented use of a podium or a sort of Grecian drapery on a dais. Because it would be impossible for her to graduate on crutches despite her being the damn valedictorian on crutches! Mercy had a sharp temper because of her pain and illness and difference, and all the other girls take that into stride. She wasn't cured magically like Katy and Pollyanna and she didn't develop perfect patience; she stays crippled and a little bit bitchy. She's my hero!

Alice B. Emerson was a pseudonym used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Known authors who wrote Ruth Fielding books include Mildred Wirt Benson, W. Bert Foster, and Elizabeth M. Duffield Ward. Thanks to Jennifer at Series Books for Girls blog, which I've only just now found while searching for anyone... anyone... on the net who is also obsessed with this stuff!

Click through for my re-read and chapter by chapter summary of Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill in all its glorious faily goodness. Or, you can read the full text here from Project Gutenberg. Summary: The miser has a heart of gold; the crippled girl walks again; Ruth wins the spelling bee and gets a new dress; there is a lone page where a Mammy and a young black girl make cameo appearances. The young black girl does not get to go to school or make any friends or get any dresses...



Read more... )

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