Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate Series

The Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate series consists of the following books.

1.  Marjorie Dean, Post-Graduate, 1925
2.  Marjorie Dean, Marvelous Manager, 1925
3.  Marjorie Dean at Hamilton Arms, 1925
4.  Marjorie Dean's Romance, 1925
5.  Marjorie Dean Macy, 1926
6.  Marjorie Dean Macy's Hamilton Colony, 1930

Marjorie Dean has graduated from college and returned to Hamilton to work on Brooke Hamilton's biography.  Leslie Cairns also remains in Hamilton, solely for the purpose of getting even with Marjorie for what she perceives to be Marjorie's wrongs against her.

Marjorie's role throughout all of the Marjorie Dean books is to serve as a good example of how to live.  Her perfection does not bother me as it does some other readers.  My problem is that I do not find Marjorie to be very interesting in the Post-Graduate series.  I need a certain amount of excitement in my books—the excitement can be psychological without any kind of action.  I dislike lame romance, detailed event planning, and excessive teasing between the characters.  The Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate series is full of that kind of content.

I found Marjorie to be rather boring in this set of books.  Her story arc had pretty much run its course by the time these books came around.  I was not interested in Brooke Hamilton or his biography.  I didn't care about Marjorie's social events or various charitable endeavors.  That is, Marjorie is a wonderful person and her various endeavors are splendid, but I did not find reading about them to be interesting.

Marjorie's nemesis, Leslie Cairns, is a different story.  She is the real star of the Marjorie Dean College and Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate sets.  Leslie is the most interesting of out all series book rivals.  I would go so far to say that she is easily one of my very favorite characters out of all series books, top five for certain, but more probably in the top two.

I have always loved Lenora Whitehill from the Beverly Gray series, and I love Leslie Cairns just as much as Lenora.  It's odd to love a villain, but Leslie experiences remarkable personal growth.  She begins as a completely awful character who hates Marjorie for no reason that anyone can tell.

Leslie does terrible things to Marjorie over and over.  She causes endless trouble, but Marjorie perseveres.  Foreshadowing lets the reader know that Leslie will face consequences eventually.  Leslie's story gets really interesting as that time approaches and each of Leslie's schemes ends in utter disaster for Leslie.  Still, she schemes.  Finally, Leslie loses something very important to her.  She continues to scheme.

Marjorie does Leslie a favor anonymously, and Leslie is later informed that Marjorie was the person who helped her.  Slowly, Leslie begins to understand.  She realizes that Marjorie is not the horrible person she thought.  Leslie even reflects that she has no idea why she didn't like Marjorie.  She slowly begins the process of becoming a better person.  As Leslie works to right her wrongs, she then becomes the victim of bullying and gets to experience how she made others feel.

Leslie's transformation from a snobbish, selfish, and mean bully to a caring, worthwhile person occurs over the course of 10 books and is a magnificent story arc.

From Leslie's first appearance in Marjorie Dean, College Freshman:
"I have heard that some of those high schools are really excellent," drawled Miss Cairns.  "I have heard too that they turn out a lot of digs and prigs.  Girls, you understand, that have to get all they can out of high school because college is out of the question for them.  I feel sorry for them.  I never knew any of that sort, though.  In fact, you are the first high school girls I have ever met.  What?"
Leslie has an interesting habit of punctuating her speech with "What?"  I came to love that interesting quirk.  Leslie also has what is described as a "hob-goblin laugh" where she leans her head back and laughs silently.

From the last book, Marjorie Dean Macy's Hamilton Colony:
Leslie shook hands warmly with Delia, pleased by the maid’s friendly sincerity.  She could not help mentally contrasting her present democratic attitude with that of her former snobbish contempt for persons in humbler circumstances than herself.  "Cairns II, you're improving," was her whimsical thought.  "There’s a lot of room yet for improvement, though, so don't get chesty."
Even though Leslie has magnificently transformed, a touch of her imperious attitude comes out at moments.  In another passage, Marjorie sees the old Leslie for just a moment.  "Watching Leslie’s face Marjorie glimpsed the shadow of the old dominating leader who had ruled the frivolous San Soucians by sheer determined will."  After all, Leslie's transformation would not be convincing if a touch of her former self were not present.  Nobody changes completely without retaining some of their former personality.

Leslie is the only character featured on the cover of Marjorie Dean, Marvelous Manager.  It is highly unusual for a series book villain to be pictured on the cover instead of the titular character.  And the final book in the Marjorie Dean series is mostly about Leslie with very little about Marjorie. I like Leslie so much that I wish she had had her own spin-off series.

I highly recommend the Marjorie Dean College series and Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate series.  This recommendation is based on Leslie Cairns and her extraordinary redemption.

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