4 Stars Out Of 5
July 9, 2014
Rocky Mountain High
THE TREASURED BRIDES Collection is a set of three stories of faith written by Grace Livingston Hill (1865 - 1947).
The Big Blue Soldier is set in Purling Brook New York, 1918. World War I veteran, Lyman Grace, returns home, sick and exhausted, to find his business has failed and he is now a debtor. He sells everything he has to get out from under the crushing load, and though he no longer has the debt, he also no longer has a home or job. His hopelessness increases when the girl who said she loved him dearly engages herself to another who can provide her with the lifestyle she craves. As he walks the road through Purling Brook, he questions the value of his life. It is at this low point, that he meets Miss Marilla Chadwick.
Miss Marilla Chadwick is an elderly spinster who longs to love and be loved. When she hears her nephew, Dick, will soon return from Europe as a war hero, she makes plans to show her love by providing a delicious meal and lavishing attention on him. As soon as he lands, she sends a note requesting his presence, but is crushed when he spurns her. Deep down she's always known he never really cared for her, yet his rejection hurts. To save face in front of the neighbors and her young friend, Mary Amber, the girl next door, she convinces a worn out soldier in a blue uniform to dine with her and, for just that evening, to allow her to call him Dick. She doesn't think her actions will hurt anyone, though she does wonder if the saying, "Oh, the tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive," is true.
Mary Amber is an unwilling participant in Miss Marilla's plans. Though she helped the woman make dinner for her nephew and agreed to stay and dine, she had concerns. She never liked Dick. He was mean and rude to her and others in the past, and though she knew war changed people, she had no confidence that Dick had changed. She is suspicious of the man who comes to dinner. He doesn't look much like Dick, and her suspicions increase when he can't answer her questions about the past correctly. She feels she must protect Miss Marilla from this deceiver.
Found Treasure is set in New York City, Summer 1928. Womanhood comes hard to tomboy, Euphemia "Effie" Martin. She doesn't fit in. She plays baseball, runs, and rides her bike better than most boys, and her rough-edged exuberance often causes her mother to sigh and her older sister to complain. When Effie overhears what the other girls her age think about her and how she acts, she is infuriated and hurt. She has always been shunned by them, so why should she care? She decides that is she can change some things, people might like her better. Lawrence Earle, the sought-after young man who taught her how to pitch a mean fast ball, shows her how Christ can change her from the inside out. She no longer has to be the old Effie, but can now be Euphemia, a person of "good report."
The Patch of Blue is set in New York City, Fall 1932. Christopher Walton, Jr., has everything a young man his age could desire: wealth, loving parents and sister, respect, admiration, athletic ability, and the expectation of returning to his senior year of college as the star football player and leader of his fraternity. On Sunday, he attends church with his parents, but his mind is not on the message. Instead, he sees the new car he will test drive the next day, and make plans to show it off. His attention is momentarily caught by the Pastor's message about being thankful when bad things happen, but he shrugs it off. He doesn't think this is possible.
On Monday, Christopher's beautiful world is shattered. There is a run on his father's bank and his life is threatened. Due to circumstances out of his control, he no longer has wealth, respect, admiration, or the expectation of returning to college. He and his family must move to Sullivan Street on the worst side of town, and he must hunt for a job. He is grateful to find a lowly job in a store where quiet Natalie Halsey works. Her faith has been tried, and when she shares it with him, he begins to see how one could be thankful for hard times.
The inside and outside covers of this book are attractive and let readers know right away they will be reading a "timeless romance." The Big Blue Soldier was interesting, but ended so abruptly that it left me wondering if G.L.H. died before she could finish. The other two stories were engaging and worth the read, though the overuse of the words "nice" and "sweet" slowed me down. I sympathized with Euphemia in Found Treasure, and enjoyed the scene in The Patch of Blue where Chris Walton saves Natalie from the armed robber by pelting him with hard green apples.
Hill's voice could be heard during times she stepped in the story to narrate a passage. Though this kind of author intrusion is not often tolerated with editors today, it gave me an opportunity to understand the importance of social class to people of this time, and what G.L.H. considered respectable or entertaining. Though social values have changed, one thing that hasn't is the way God works in the lives of his people.
I received this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.