Wednesday, May 20, 2015

TBR Day. I Hear Adventure Calling / Emilie Loring. 1948

When it comes to "old school," I imagine it doesn't get too much better than this. If Mary Balogh was my gateway BACK to romance 10 years ago, Emilie Loring was my introduction to it (along with Grace Livingston Hill) over 40 years ago when I was 13 or 14. This Wikipedia entry about Loring is well worth reading. I had a rather large collection of Loring's books at one point, but I gave them away during a move. After a Twitter convo with @emilyjanehubb, Emily Jane kindly sent me a half dozen of her Loring duplicates. I was so thrilled because I immediately recognized several of the books she sent me. This one, though, I did not remember, so it became the perfect choice for this month's TBR Challenge.

The back cover blurb: Fran had been warned about Myles Jaffray. According to the gossip, nothing could stop Myles from breaking a woman's heart--not even a wedding ring. The more Myles made himself a part of her summer evenings, the more determined Fran became to resist his advances. But when the art gallery she worked for was robbed and the burglar left clues leading straight to Fran, she desperately needed help. The only person she could turn to was the man she despised--Myles Jaffray.

Reading Loring again after 40+ years and in a world that has changed in so many ways, the story itself became rather incidental to the experience of reading the book. The story is actually somewhat conventional. So rather than discuss the story, here are some the things about the writing, the setting, and the time period that hit me:

  • Right off the bat, on page 1, I was transported to the 1940s. In my head it's like watching a black-and-white post-war movie. There's an elevator operator, a switchboard operator, and Fran is wearing a beret. And on page 2 there's mention of a white cross in a field in Belgium. The war, and its aftermath, is a quiet backdrop to the book.
  • I think Loring was a champion of smart, independent women, even if they wind up in traditional rolls at the end of the day. In this book, Fran may be an heiress, but when a man she doesn't know (the hero, Myles) is in charge of the purse strings, Fran gets herself a job and learns to stand on her own two feet.
  • They didn't call it PTSD in 1948 (I don't think), but Loring understood the horror of war. There's a brief scene from Myles' POV where an airplane goes overhead and he's mentally transported to a time when he parachuted somewhere in Europe to help rescue the crew of a downed bomber. He cuts off his memory before it gets graphic, but Loring lets us know that even though the war is over, Myles is still dealing with the things he saw and had to do.
  • Loring never met an adjective she couldn't use. That Wikipedia entry puts it more kindly by saying she painted pictures with her words, describing things in exacting detail. This is the first sentence of chapter 2: A breeze lightly scented with the salty tang of kelp, murmurous with the lazy lap of the tide against rocks, stirred the palm-designed chintz hangings at the long open windows of the dining room in the Sargent home, Rocky Point. It's beautiful writing, but I've become accustomed to writing that moves the action forward as opposed to elaborately setting the stage. I'm not trying to be negative, because it isn't a bad thing, it's a different thing.
It was wonderful to re-visit Emilie Loring's world again. I think anyone who loves the Romance genre as it exists today should read at least one of her books. It's a narrow, white, upper-class world she created, but the romance was central to what she wrote and you can see modern genre conventions on every page.

10 comments:

  1. Very vivid! I don't really remember anything much about reading Loring, but I feel like I know her books now.

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    1. Thank you! I don't remember much about my earlier reading of Loring either. It was interesting to dissect how different this was from current reading.

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  2. Oh my! My sweet old auntie was a big fan of Emilie Loring and Grace Livingston Hill, and tried to get me to read them when I was in 7th grade, but my mom had a prejudice against these types of book (never learned why). I remember elevator operators and telephone switchboards. How I wish I'd listened to my aunt and not my mom. Great review!

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    1. I do remember a whack at Hill, which sadly I thought was dreadful. Very inspie in tone, and the heroine going off with a perfect stranger struck me as idiocy disguised as adorable innocence.

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    2. Thank you Marilyn! And Willaful is right, Hill was very inspie and very judgmental. Her heroines did do stupid things. But it all appealed to my 13-year old brain. I wouldn't want to re-read Hill today. I do want to read more of the Lorings Emily Jane sent me, though.

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  3. If we can believe my TBR Challenge read: post-WWII they called PTSD "battle fatigue." Which just makes it sound like you didn't get enough sleep the night before and now you need an extra cup of coffee to perk up!

    It's fun to go back and revisit these old favorites. I never read Loring myself, I suspect because I didn't come from a family of women who sat around recommending books to each other. I seem to recall my grandmother reading Loring? But the memory is hazy now.....

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    1. Another friend of mine called it "shell shock" which sounds almost as trivial as "battle fatigue."

      We had a neighbor across the street who took me and her daughter to a used book sale, pointed to the Lorings, and told us we'd like those. And that's how it started!

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  4. I have a little stack of these and I've never read them. You've inspired me. Maybe for next month? I do have more than one...

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    1. Oh I do hope you'll read one. I'd love to know what you think.

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    2. Would you like to read Emilie Loring's first, official biography? In advance of publication, please follow my blog: http://pattibender.com
      Patti Bender

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