I've always loved Pollyanna. She was one of my childhood friends, and I feel a fierce, protective friendship for the happy little girl who tried to bring gladness to a bunch of jaded realists in the town of Beldingsville. She was one of my childhood fandoms, along with Sherlock Holmes and Kidnapped--a detective, a Scottish outlaw, and a little American girl all jumbled together in a golden dream of fictional reality. I loved Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up--and when my mom and I discovered Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms, by a lady who continued on the Glad Series, I was enchanted.
The last book is the subject of today's review. I will warn you in advance that it contains spoilers for Pollyanna Grows Up, and the identity of the man she marries. The spoilers probably won't ruin your reading experience, so you can go ahead and read them if you like. :) But if you want Pollyanna Grows Up to be a surprise, then now is the time to click away....
Happily engaged to (oh, did you keep reading?) Jimmy Bean, Pollyanna Whittier has all the reasons in the world to play the Glad Game. Her friends are gathered around her to help her start a new life, her Aunt Polly is throwing open the house to host their wedding at the grand old mansion, and Pollyanna has Jimmy's mixture of blunt teasing and sweet love to keep her happy.
Wedding, honeymoon, first apartment, slip one by one into her life, and she and Jimmy move from sweethearts to established life friends. It takes time to adjust to him being gone to work all day, but with her knack for finding people who need encouragement, Pollyanna meets a young wife, Judith, in the next apartment over and tries to make friends. Not only Judith's splitting marriage, but young, neglected Gladys Moore and many other people are recipients of her cheerful help, and she blesses yet another place with her joyful outlook. She finds that early marriage is not easy dealing with relatives, finances, her husband, and the impending world war, but her and Jimmy's mutual love and exercising give and take helps them over the rough spots that come along.
And when Jimmy enlists as a soldier in World War One, she will have yet another test to prove her Glad Game to the world.
The absolute charm of this book is how seamless a transition it is from Eleanor Porter's writing style. Some authors can carry on in another author's style just like them--I've read a couple of women who can write Sherlock Holmes mysteries like Arthur Conan Doyle, and Arthur Quiller-Couch finished Stevenson's unfinished novel St. Ives (PG-13 for content) to perfection. The same award goes to Harriet Lumis Smith for her continuation of Pollyanna. Aunt Polly is the same lady as in Porter's edition. ("Just like an old nut." -- "You can say that again."--"No, I mean you just have to find a way to crack open the shell to get at the goodness inside.") Jimmy is same old Jimmy Bean, albeit a young man now, and quite the nice average American head of the household. Everything is the same, and yet, in a way, better. It's been a while since I've read the book, but I think Smith tones down Porter's heavy sentimentalism and stuttering characters, and generally makes them more mature without losing any of their authenticity. The solutions Pollyanna finds in this book (and helps others find) are not always fast, or simple, or easy--in fact, Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms has some downright sad plotlines to balance the happy cheer. But the ups and downs combine to make a perfect light novel.
What I loved about this book was the beauty in the mundane detail. Hosting company without breaking the budget, adjusting to living in a small apartment, and enjoying the challenges and joys of being best friends together.
It also contains quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, from trying to figure out where to dispose of unwanted wedding gifts, to Jimmy's less-than-successful attempts to buy Pollyanna a hat as a surprise, to Jimmy's hapless escapade of drinking the company cream by mistake.
Pollyanna had hurried to the ice box. She looked inside, saw the plate of chicken cleared except for a few scraps, and made another discovery. "Why Jimmy, what has happened to my cream?"
"Cream!" Jimmy repeated thickly. "Was that--cream?"
Pollyanna turned a tragic face upon him. "It wasn't ordinary cream. It was whipping cream." She saw by his expression that he did not understand her, and gave the necessary explanation. "Very rich, very expensive cream that will whip."
"Golly!" muttered the abashed Jimmy, "I thought it was extra good."
A happy and satisfying continuation of the adventures of Pollyanna. There are around thirteen sequels in all, and I have read four of them. Alas, I have read all I can get my hands on. But someday I should like to read the entire Glad Series and live the adventure again.
Please do come back Friday, folks! I'm starting an exciting new feature on My Lady Bibliophile to merge my writing and reading interests, and I'll be posting the first installment then. :) I can't wait!