Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Paris Hat

A couple months ago I went up to Tonopah, Nevada and in the museum there I saw a pile of used books for sale. Most of them were books for teenagers. I bought two -- The Paris Hat by Mary Lee Cunningham (1959) and The Charmed Circle by Dorothea J. Snow (1962). I chose these somewhat randomly, because I liked the title or the illustrations. I had no idea what either was about and really didn't expect much.

The Paris Hat turned out to be a really good read. The basic subject, wrapped around the heroine, her grandmother and two of her aunts, turned out to be women choosing between careers and marriage, and the basic message seemed to be that it didn't matter what you chose so long as you made the decision that was right for you. Needless to say, this surprised me, given the year it was written, but it turns out The Paris Hat was part of a recognized teenage genre, "the career-romance" which was popular in the 1950s and 60s.

The Charmed Circle was about going to high school and learning that popularity is something you can achieve by being friendly to everybody and getting more involved in school affairs. It was enjoyable, in its way. Although I'm still not sure what planet it was set on.

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