Books for the Sick Room (2)

Image from here

I’m getting fed up with bed rest and tried walking up and down the garden path in my dressing gown and slippers which is ok, but only if I do it very slowly and carefully which defeats the purpose somewhat! In tune with all this keeping put business, a little poem by Edna St Vincent Millay called The Unexplorer has been running round and round my head this morning:

There was a road ran past our house
Too lovely to explore.
I asked my mother once — she said
That if you followed where it led
It brought you to the milkman’s door.
(That’s why I have not travelled more.)

Fortunately, even if forced to be one of the unexploring physically, I’ve been ranging far and wide in my reading. Right now, well-loved comfort reads feel just right so I was delighted to find three well loved Young Adult classics from the States at very reasonable prices for Kindle. Lenora Mattingly Weber, Janet Lambert and Helen Dore Boylston are all authors who established themselves as writers for girls and young women in the mid-twentieth century (the Malt Shop Era in YA fiction as it is affectionately known) and went on to write copiously of girls, their friends, their families, their romances and their careers. All have been republished in attractive paperback reprints by Image Cascade Publishing in the States at very reasonable prices, but are not so easy to find  here in the UK. You can imagine my delight to rediscover some of them on for Kindle!

Meet the Malones by Lenora Mattingly Weber is the first in the Beany Malone (now there’s a name that sounds dated!) series. There are fourteen books in all and we watch Beany progress through high school to marriage and motherhood.

Image from here.

The publishers describe it thus:

The introductory book of the Beany Malone series. Mary Fred spends the fifteen dollars that is intended for a new formal to buy her beloved Mr. Chips, a lame horse. Elizabeth’s husband, Don, is sent overseas, and a weak and wan Elizabeth arrives at the Malones’ with her two-week-old son, Martie. When Mr. Malone is called away on business for the Call, the children’s step-grandmother, Nonna, arrives to “run” the household and shower them with gifts. It is quickly evident that Nonna has earned her title as “the iron hand in the velvet glove.” When Nonna provides Mary Fred expensive new clothes and relieves her of her household responsibilities, will Mary Fred be able to manage her confused priorities?

Set in 1939 right after Pearl Harbour, this series features the ups and downs of a Catholic family in Denver, Colorado. Their mother has died three years previously, and their father is a frequently absent newspaper editor.  At the beginning of the series Beany (originally christened Catherine Cecilia) is 13 and lives in a “gray-stone” house on Barberry Street with her father, Martie, her brother, Johnny (15), and sister, Mary Fred (16). Her eldest sister, Elizabeth (19) has married a young lieutenant, but the start of the American involvement in World War 2 changes everything. Their housekeeper leaves to look after her grandchildren as her daughter has taken a job in a munitions factory, and Elizabeth returns home weak and frail with a new baby boy when her husband is sent overseas. The family learn to economise and make do. There’s plenty of satisfying details about everything from Mary Fred’s horse and romantic ups and downs to High School fun and angst to housekeeping to community affairs and learning the bigger lessons of what really matters in life. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and happily, the second in the series Beany Malone, is also available in the UK for Kindle, fingers crossed they release more!

Image of Leonora Mattingly Weber from here

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