Booth Tarkington never lets me down

I was *desperate *for something to read, and browsing through the library shelves came across a rare Booth Tarkington I had never read, his 1905 novel The Conquest of Canaan. As usual, it is terrific! The story of a small town and various loves and hatreds and rivalries. He is so good at books where nothing big or dramatic really happens, but they are such great character studies, you really feel you get to know the people and their world.

His “kid” books (the Penrods and Orvies and Seventeen) are unrivaled for that sort of heartwarming early-20th-century nostalgia, and I also loved The Magnificent Ambersons, Alice Adams (though I *hate *the fey, fluttery Hepburn movie) *Presenting Lily Mars, The Show Piece, The Flirt *. . . It’s like visiting those towns that everyone in The Twilight Zone wanted to return to.

Does anyone else read Booth Tarkington these days, or am I the last dinosaur? (And ask me sometime about Christopher Morley or Olive Higgins Prouty . . .)

I read Seventeen a while ago. It was ok, but the abhorent Lola, with her baby-talk and her repulsive dog “Flopit” (“Oooh–wookit da funny-mans Fwoppit! Ooo! Isn’t hims SOOooooooOOooooo siwwly-billy? Hims so funny-wunny!!”) stole the story. Yeah, it was supposed to be about whatshisname…Willie? but frankly, I just wanted to give him a good solid kick in the ass and just watch Lola, who was awesome in her horribleness wreak distruction on the town. I found myself skimming ahead to see what she’d do next rather than reading Willie’s stuff.

I re read the Penrod books this year. Mama plant gave them to me when I was young.
Herman attacking the White bully with a lawnmower is great. “In his warrior instinct, he wish to kill his enemy, and kill him quickly.”

I read The Magnificent Ambersons this year. I understand why Orson Welles was so angry that the ending was changed.

Another fan, but I’ve only read Alice Adams and The Magnificent Ambersons.

Another writer in the same vein (characterization, ordinary lives, not much plot) is Elizabeth Gaskell. Cranford is absolutely delicious. And W. Somerset Maugham. I’m reading Of Human Bondage – pages and pages of Philip Carey trying to find his place in the world, not a plot to be found, but it’s very compelling.

I loved Cranford! I read it years before the mini-series, and have a copy with 19th-century ink illustrations. “Charming,” in the best, non-ironic sense of the word.

I highly recommend Olive Higgins Prouty’s Vale Family series, of which Now, Voyager is the most famous.

And dig for more Booth Tarkington! The only book of his that didn’t “send” me was his early *The Gentleman from Indiana.

Thanks for the Prouty recommendation. Found two in Kindle editions, one free and one for 99 cents. :smiley:

If you haven’t yet read Tarkington’s Rumbin Galleries, you are in for one hell of a treat and must do so IMMEDIATELY. A lovely comic take on “high art” as seen in the Depression-era American bourgeoisie.

I’m very fond of the Penrods and have dutifully read a bunch of the “grown-up” books, which I mostly found a bit too sentimental for my taste, although with some fantastic comic bits in them, especially The Flirt.

Never heard of Little Orvie before this, will have to check it out!

It doesn’t ring a bell; I will ask my library for it!

You do that! If you don’t end up adoring Howie and Georgina and Mr. Rumbin, I will eat my Eugene Boudin print.

Which books did you get? Like Booth, Olive has never let me down. It’s best to read the Vale stories in order (she wrote them over, like, 20 years), but they are good on their own, too.

Conquest of Canaan is one of my favorites! Glad somebody discovered it.

Little Orvie and Rumbin Galleries are good calls, too. I’d add Kate Fennigate, The Young Mrs. Greeley, The Lorenzo Bunch, Image of Josephine, and his non-fiction The World Does Move to that list as well.

You may not find much Tarkington on the shelf at your library, but the bigger ones keep most of his works in their archives. Ask your librarian about that if the catalog listing isn’t including what you’re looking for.

You can also find cheap, cheap reading copies of Tark’s non-public-domain titles at Works from 1923 and prior can be had for free in electronic form, too.