Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Twenty-Fourth of June by Grace S Richmond

Well, I'm back from a busy fortnight helping out a friend, but thanks to her, I have a whole new author to review.

Grace S Richmond's 1914 novel The Twenty-Fourth of June is a cozy vintage romance. A wealthy and unattached young idler, Richard Kendrick, runs an errand for the even wealthier uncle whose heir he is--and finds himself in the warm, lively, and industrious Gray home, seeing family life for the very first time, and equally fascinated by this experience as by the charming Roberta Gray. Before long, Richard finds a way to install himself in the Gray home as a secretary to Miss Gray's uncle. But although the family at large takes Richard to their heart, he finds Roberta prickly and often even forbidding. Soon, it becomes clear that she looks down on him as a good-for-nothing socialite. Will Richard rise to the challenge and find a useful occupation? Can he really be as useless as Roberta thinks? Will Richard finally be able to set up the home he's come to dream of? Well--the answers shouldn't be too difficult to guess.

This was a most enjoyable novel, of course. It had all the best strengths of a vintage novel, and few of the weaknesses. Oh yes, it was a little bit sentimental about the home, and you could easily play Vintage Romance Novel Bingo with its plot (Outwardly unlikeable hero with hidden depths, tick--heroine partly changes her mind about him after seeing his house, tick). But on the other hand, it skirted a few of the pitfalls: the home was not seen as a place of idleness, but of industry; women are not the only righteous characters in the book; and so on.

There is not a whole lot I can say about this book in a review, except that I enjoyed it and you might too. This is partly because of the genre of the book itself--while Mrs Richmond gets up to some interesting writerly tricks, such as the almost impressionistic portrait of the Gray's home in the first chapter, the themes of the book are quite simple, and all lying around on the surface where it's easy to see them.

This is not necessarily, of course, a bad thing. I have myself enjoyed homes very much like the one described in the novel, and the more books in which idle young men find a purpose the better! It's a good, wholesome, inoffensive book that also happens to be well-written and satisfying, if not on the same level as Mansfield Park. Recommended, and I'll certainly be interested in reading some more Grace S Richmond in future.

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