Meet the Malones. (Beany Malone #1) Lenora Mattingly Weber. 1943. 282 pages. [Source: Borrowed from a friend]
First sentence: MARY FRED MALONE had just bought a horse. He was black and his name was Mr. Chips and Mary Fred was riding him home.
Premise/plot: Meet the Malones is the first in a series of books that chronicles the [fictional] Malone family. Elizabeth, Mary Fred, Johnny, and Beany. The book is set during the Second World War in Colorado. Elizabeth's husband, Don, is overseas fighting. Their father, a journalist, has gone to Hawaii. The family is mostly on their own--except for when they aren't. Nonna, the grandmother, is a FIERCE force to be reckoned with when she does arrive. She does change the family dynamics quite a bit.
The point of view in this one is all Mary Fred. She has her first misadventure with "love" in this one. As this "mop-squeezer" is swept off her feet by the super-popular football player who typically dates "queens." Elizabeth returns home with a newborn son to care for! The whole family helps out...not just with Elizabeth but with other children in need. There is a real spirit of hospitality and compassion in this one. (Though that may not extend all the way to the neighbor's dog.)
My thoughts: I enjoyed this one very much! I enjoyed getting to know the family. At times I was left wanting more--which overall I think is better than reverse. Each chapter is a "snapshot." Some focus more on family life at home, their relationships with each other. Others focus more on school OR the community. You do get a sense of how life on the home front is during the war. The war is never far from their minds, they are always thinking of ways they can help out the war effort and encourage/support those serving.
- The young Malones made their own decisions about lamb chops and life. He was the delight of his English Lit teacher, gray-haired, gray-eyed, gray-garbed Miss Hewlitt.
- ‘The highest price you can pay for a thing is to get it for nothing.’ That’s the trouble with this generation; they want everything—”
- Mary Fred said softly, “I read some place where courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
- “Rabbits,” groaned Beany. “Why do people always poke rabbits at children when they’re too young to defend themselves?” “They’re beautiful blankets,” Elizabeth insisted.
- Shame was different from grief or anxiety. You could share those with the ones you loved.
- Elizabeth said earnestly, “I don’t think they ought to end stories like that for children. It gives them the wrong idea. There’s happiness in love—oh, happiness that shakes you and enriches you, but love and marriage isn’t a happy-ever-after thing. Love and marriage has so much ache and emptiness and hurt with the happiness.”
- Elizabeth detained them for one last word of admonition. “Now listen, gals, be sure you go out there to this soldiers’ dance with only one idea—not to have a good time yourselves but to give them one. Because you’ve got other good times ahead of you. But these kids—we don’t know what’s ahead for them.”
- “I didn’t bring you here to gloat over you,” he said quietly, as he swerved the car around and started home. “I wanted you to see for yourself. You’re always talking about Nonna and her being like a fairy godmother. I’m not up on my fairy tales but it seems to me I read about some old woman who fed a girl a poisoned apple and it stuck in her throat and she lay in a coma until something jolted her and it fell out. I wanted to jolt you.”
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