Monday, August 16, 2010

Linda by Mildred A. Wirt

Linda was published in 1940 by Cupples and Leon. It was written by Mildred A. Wirt and is one of her most obscure books. It seldom comes up for sale with an original dust jacket. Most examples that surface are offered by collectors and have reproduction dust jackets. I recall seeing examples with original dust jackets selling for possibly $500 to $600 years ago.

I advise against reading the dust jacket's synopsis unless you are fine with the entire plot of the book being spoiled before you read it. I have found the dust jacket synopsis online in a listing for a book that is up for sale, so also be cautious about any synopsis that appears in a seller's listing. My objection is to one specific piece of information that is mentioned in the synopsis. While I still greatly enjoyed the book, I would have preferred not to have had that part of the plot spoiled before reading the book. I cannot understand why the Cupples and Leon company did this with some of its books.

I will now give a setup of the basic premise, and needless to say, I will not mention how the book ends.

Linda Calvert is a spoiled 18-year-old girl who lives with her 57-year-old father, Jim Calvert. Linda's mother has been dead for three years. Mr. Calvert runs a successful golf course that he built on an old farm. The Calverts live in the renovated farmhouse.

Mr. Calvert worries that Linda has developed bad habits, including laziness, during the last few years. He does not approve of Barney Durbin, who is Linda's favorite golfing companion. Linda does not understand why Mr. Calvert disapproves of Barney, who is lazy and self-centered.

As an aside, the caddy who figures prominently into the subplot of the book is a boy named Sammy. The caddy in the Nancy Drew book, The Haunted Bridge, is also named Sammy. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I kind of doubt it. Mildred Wirt Benson wrote both books, and why not put in a sly nod to Nancy Drew?

To go back to this book, Mr. Calvert has decided to send Linda away for the summer to Iowa to live with Aunt Rachel, Doctor Cameron, and their teenage children, Faye and Clyde. Linda temporarily postpones her banishment to Iowa when she manipulates her father into letting her stay by cleaning the house properly, staying away from Barney, and cooking dinner correctly.

Soon, Linda makes her father a promise she fails to keep, and Linda is sent to Iowa. Linda thinks that all she needs to do is impress the other young people, and they will flock after her. Linda little understands that the others see her as a hopeless snob and has no idea why they avoid her. During Linda's time in Iowa, she is put through a number of hardships that begin to shape her character.

I did not like Linda during the first few chapters, but that is to be expected since she is portrayed as shallow and selfish. As the book progresses, the reader begins to care about Linda.

This book is comparable to Mildred Wirt Benson's other standalone titles, which are all good. The difference with this book is that it is not a mystery, but that does not take away from the excellent story presented.


Lenora said...

I've had this one for awhile now, but I haven't read it yet. My copy doesn't have the dust jacket, and I can't say I'm too sorry--it's a bit on the ugly side to be shelling out all that money. Mine was about $20 in a Buy It Now on eBay, I think.

Gina said...

Yeah I have to agree, the cover is kind of ugly/creepy. I'm not really liking the disembodied head thing :)

Paula said...

At a flea market, I came across an old book that interested me. It was called The Secret of the Sundial by Ann Wirt. Copyright 1932, published by The Goldsmith Publishing Company in Chicago, Ill. I purchased it thinking this is too much of a coincidence!

Sure enough when I got home, I found on the internet that Mildred Wirt (as Ann Wirt) wrote the Madge Sterling Series of which this is the 3rd, and I believe last, title in the series. It appears they were all published in 1932 together, just as the first 3 Nancy Drew books were published together. I'm not sure though. Interesting that it was published 2 years after the Nancy Drew series first came out.

Any information on this series, and this book in particular, is very welcome. The pages are very dark/browned, similar condition to what is normal for the wartime Nancy Drews. It has it's orginal dustjacket which is somewhat soiled, but is intact with normal wear. The signature on the cover art looks like "F. Rigney". Not sure how I can tell the printing date - maybe there was only one printing and then the series died out?

I have to share this blurb from the back cover (which may explain why the series didn't take off as Nancy Drew did)...

"Mothers who are deeply concerned for their children's inner life will find this series a real boon. These stories have been written by men and women whose pens point the way to the heart of things that children love.

Our policy is always to publish good books for red-blooded boys and girls, without anything in the stories which may cause fright, suggest fear, or glorify mischief."


Jennifer said...

Since you mentioned that the cover is creepy, I immediately thought of the Nancy Drew costume from the 1970s. Linda's head is kind of like the mask on that costume, and that costume is definitely creepy.

I don't know how long the Madge Sterling books were in print. I do know that they all have bad quality paper that has deeply yellowed.

The blurbs on some of these old books are a riot!

Paula said...

Okay - duh!! I just realized you already have a page on the Madge Sterling Series on your website, Jennifer! I haven't explored your website in a long time and obviously not nearly enough! Thanks for all the info therein! Wow Wirt was REALLY prolific! OK - going back now to read up some more on wirt...

Jennifer said...

Mildred Wirt Benson wrote over 100 books. She was very busy during the 1930s. The Honey Bunch books are the only ones I do not own. I have no interest in the Honey Bunch series, and I don't think I can make myself buy them. I would rather buy the Bobbsey Twins books, and I don't care for those as it is.

I have enjoyed all of Wirt's books. The only ones I liked less than the rest are the Dot and Dash books, the Dan Carter books, and Mystery of the Laughing Mask. The Dot and Dash books are for young children like the Honey Bunch books, which is why I liked them less. Dan Carter is overly concerned with doing good and telling the truth, and the message is so strong that it takes away from the story. I should have liked Mystery of the Laughing Mask since it is a mystery book that involves a young woman, but for some reason, it did not click with me.

Laura Canon said...

I'm excited to find this site as I've been collecting and blogging about non-series girls books from this era on my blog The Paris Hat. I particularly love the covers and only wish I could afford more HBDJs.

Alexa said...

I am trying to locate or find more information about a girl series I read as a child in the late 70's. The heroine was named Libby. The first book involved some type of relationship with her beloved horse. The thrust of the story and second book, which was called "Libby and The Girls" (I think) was set in New England boarding school around the turn of the century. That is all I can remember and have had no luck finding it. I welcome any help!! Thank you!!!

Jennifer said...

I can't help, but I know of somewhere you can ask. Check out this forum:

Book Sleuth Forum

I have heard that it is an excellent place to ask about books for which you do not know the title.

Lauren said...

I am trying to locate or find more information about a girl series I read as a child in the late 70's. The heroine was named Libby. The first book involved some type of relationship with her beloved horse. The thrust of the story and second book, which was called "Libby and The Girls" (I think) was set in New England boarding school around the turn of the century. That is all I can remember and have had no luck finding it. welcome any help!! Thank you!!!

Could this be it? Gloria Whelan is the author, the first book is called Next Spring an Oriole. It's got the horse, Libby and the 1800's setting. I did see something about a girl's boarding school, but's not in the link I'm looking at right now. (Copy and paste the links below, they don't show up as links here.)

"Historical fiction at an easy level is hard to find, and this pioneer story, narrated by 10-year-old Libby Mitchell on her journey from Virginia to Michigan in 1837, is smoothly written and appealing. The wagon trail is not easy, and Whelan is careful to include a taste of the hardships. She's also careful in her presentation of the Potawatomi Indians, who figure in the story when the Mitchells nurse one of their own children back to health. The story, though brief, is well developed."--

Libby’s family moves to Northern Michigan where she is reunited with her best friend, Fawn, whose family now lives there with the Ottawa tribe. The girls’ happiness is short lived when they find out that greedy men are trying to cheat the Indians out of their land. Now Libby and Fawn must think of a way to stop them—before the forest is lost forever.

The night of the full moon is approaching and Libby Mitchell cannot wait! Nothing will stop her from visiting her best friend, Fawn, at the nearby Indian camp and attending a special ceremony there. When soldiers rush in and order everyone at the camp to move off the land immediately—they mistake Libby for a member of the tribe! As each day passes, Libby wonders if she will ever see her family again.

Alexa said...

@Jennifer: Thanks for the tip! Trying it out now.

@Lauren: Not the series I am looking for -- but it sounds like a good one. I appreciate the effort!!

Alexa said...

@Jennifer: Thank you. I am trying them now.

@Lauren: Not the series I am looking for -- but it does sound interesting. I truly appreciate the effort. Thank you.

Alexa said...

(Don't know why I leave multiple comments) But the BookSlueth was a hit. The books were by Natalie Savage Calson and about a girl named Luvvy (not Libby). Thanks again to all.