Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vintage Snark

While researching my Plaidy article, I came across a December 7, 1947, review in The New York Times of Beyond the Blue Mountains, Plaidy's first novel written under the Plaidy name. (Edit: Make that the second Plaidy novel. Thanks, Sarah!)

The reviewer is rather unimpressed: "This novel sings of illegitmate ladies and philandering men, and a long-winded, blowsy song it is. . . . This novel of generations is here coupled with a sampling of Amber-class heroines to produce a fiction so foolish and formula that its sponsors have seen fit in one place to label the creation 'A Romantic Novel.' It should offer limited appeal exclusively to readers of whatever that is."

Whew! And you thought historical fiction took some licks nowadays!

After three more paragraphs, in which the reviewer (identified as "B.V.W.") proceeds to give away most of the plot, he or she (odds are that it's a he) concludes, "It is pleasant to note, from the author's picture on the dust jacket, that she bears a winsome and charming resemblance to the British musical-comedy actress Jessie Matthews. Perhaps Miss Plaidy has missed her calling."

Well, no. Rather, millions of Plaidy sales later, it appears that B.V.W. sure missed the boat.


Sarah said...

Ouch. Today's reviewers can be pretty snarky, but it's hard to get away with criticizing the author's appearance nowadays.

There is one earlier (and very much rarer) Plaidy novel, called Together They Ride. You can find a copy on ABE for precisely $314.70. I don't happen to own a copy, unfortunately.

Arleigh said...

I hope the reviewer was around to notice Jean Plaidy's amazing career.

Scheherazade said...

I can still remember some detail from that book, and I read it over 20 years ago, I believe. Can't be that bad.