Jun. 24th, 2009

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

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: (mustachio)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Betty Gordon at Bramble Farm (1920) is about an orphan 13 year old girl whose kind uncle adopts her and then goes off to work in his oil fields somewhere Out West. He sends her by train to the farm of an old school friend of his so she can learn to ride and have fun for the summer. This school friend, Mrs. Peabody, turns out to have married an abusive, stingy man who has basically killed her spirit and soul so much that she keeps a slovenly house and cooks dull fried potatoes and ham every day. There are flies everywhere. Oh, misery! Betty befriends the orphaned "poorhouse rat" 14 year old boy Bob Henderson who is totally abused and starved and overworked. Mr. Peabody has cheated the two hired men of their wages, too! Betty's outraged!

Betty doesn't have much going for her other than a lot of entitlement and a bad temper, which she beats herself up over every time she tells off Mr. Peabody. She was pretty brave when she unharnessed and reharnessed the balky horse when it was stuck in the middle of the crossroads in the dark where motorcars might hit them and had to drag her injured uncle back home. And she was a bit brave, or lucky, when she overheard the chicken theives plotting to load up the truck full of Mrs. Peabody's chickens! Betty didn't think they were really bad and luckily didn't have to testify against them, because of extenuating circumstances like Mr. Peabody being a cheat and a miser!

There was an interesting bit where Betty thinks to herself that though he is a poorhouse rat, Bob is clearly a boy of good breeding, because his hands and feet are well-proportioned. Unlike the hired men! Bob also has a mysterious box with some papers that have his parents' marriage certificate and some other information and he's going to go to Washington someday to find the mysterious bookstore owner who seemed like he might know something about his mother's family. Do you think he'll turn out to be super rich? I DUNNO! Do you think he is pretty much already in love with Betty?! Or will he be her cousin? I vote for the love plot.

So, I'm going to keep reading for the explanations of social class, and the inevitable boarding school. In this town she befriended Dr. Guerin's family and his daughters who will surely end up as chums in her school, going to Pine Island or Cliff Richards or Blue Lake or perhaps Out West. We'll see!

It's odd for this book to be from 1920 and yet completely free of mention of the war that just happened!


girlycon: A white girl in a school uniform with her horse, from the cover of Leader of the Lower School by Angela Brazil. (Default)

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