Monday, March 04, 2013

Dear Enemy (1915)

Dear Enemy. Jean Webster. 1915. 236 pages.

Dear Judy:
Your letter is here. I have read it twice, and with amazement. Do I understand that Jervis has given you, for a Christmas present, the making over of the John Grier Home into a model institution, and that you have chosen me to disburse the money?

I liked Daddy-Long-Legs. But I LOVED Dear Enemy. Sallie McBride, a friend first introduced in Daddy-Long-Legs, has at the request of her friend taken leadership of the John Grier Home. So much work, so much responsibility, is it even something that she wants to do short-term? Yes, she's agreed to it. But it was in the moment. She wanted to show her politician boyfriend that she COULD do it if she wanted to do it. That it wasn't because she wasn't CAPABLE that she was hesitating. But now that she's there, now that she's seen all those children that NEED, always need, need, need. What has she gotten herself into?! And the people she has to work with?! Readers get to know all the details through her correspondence...

There are two men in Sallie's life. The first is the politician, Gordon Hallock, who is willing to indulge Sallie's ambitions for a while at least until she's ready to admit she's ready to settle down and be his wife. (He's very generous to the John Grier Home.) The second is a (Scottish) doctor, Robin McRae, who is the physician for the orphanage. Sallie and the doctor don't always get along, in fact, they argue quite a bit. Both tend to be passionate and opinionated. But there are times when they don't argue, times when they're on the same side. There are times her 'dear enemy' is her closest friend....

I found Dear-Enemy to be giddy-making! I really loved this book.

Her description of the doctor:
Usually, he's scientific and as hard as granite, but occasionally I suspect him of being quite a sentimental person underneath his official casing. For days at a time he will be patient and kind and helpful and I begin to like him; then without any warning an untamed wild man swells up from the innermost depths, and--oh, dear! the creature's impossible. I always suspect that sometime in the past he has suffered a terrible hurt, and that he is still brooding over the memory of it. All the time he is talking you have an uncomfortable feeling that in the far back corners of his mind he is thinking something else. But this may be merely by romantic interpretation of an uncommonly bad temper. In any case, he's baffling. (144-5)
Her description of the politician:
There is no doubt about it, Gordon is the most presentable man that ever breathed. He is so good looking and easy and gracious and witty, and his manners are impeccable. Oh, he would make a wonderfully decorative husband! But after all, I suppose you do live with a husband. You don't just show him off at dinners and teas. (164)
Read Dear Enemy
  • If you liked Daddy-Long-Legs
  • If you like epistolary novels
  • If you like romance or historical romance
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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