The Gold Shoe (Grace Livingston Hill, 1930)

Rich socialite Anastasia Endicott is snowbound on her way to a country dance and is rescued from icy death only by the timely arrival of Thurly Macdonald, who takes her back to his mother’s cottage. Thurly is a preacher and his mother Margret worries that this young “worldling” is going to turn his heart. Tasha soon goes home but forgets the shoe she lost in the snow, which Thurly found and keeps meaning to return but never does. Thurly must be out of town for several weeks, and not wanting his mother to be left alone, a companion is arranged — her niece, Hesba. Hesba is training to be a social worker or some such, but despite her devotion to “the Cause”, Margret takes a strong aversion to the girl and her plain attempt to seduce Thurly. Tasha, ignorant of religion as she may be, starts to look a lot more preferable.

Cutting to the chase, Hesba eventually finds a man demure enough to accept her domineering and quits Thurly, to Margret’s great relief. Tasha finds Jesus and she and Thurly live happily ever after.

Inscription: On the front flyleaf, “Waterboro Aug 16 1932, Ida R. Burbank”. On a little folded card pasted to the back endpaper, “J.R. Libby Co, 8/2 75”.

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Dolores Divine (Kenneth M. Ellis, 1931)

This appears to be a transcript of a radio drama interspersed with newspaper articles written by the reporter character in said drama that are wholly pointless as they merely reiterate what’s just been said, often verbatim in long block quotes, without providing any additional commentary. Damon Fenwicke is found dead and Dolores Divine is accused of his murder. The drama is mostly confined to the courtroom, where the State presents an extremely weak case that I think we’re supposed to find convincing and the Defense does nothing at all. Did Divine do it? No, of course not. Was it the mafia? No, just as they appeared to be, they were a red herring. In a not very shocking twist, the culprit turns out to be Divine’s overprotective mother who confesses to everything at the end for no particular reason (Divine’s already been acquitted — it isn’t to spare her).

Inscriptions: Stamped on the front endpaper and flyleaf, “Taylor Lending Libraries, Book No. R432”.

The Fortunes of Captain Blood (Rafael Sabatini, 1936)

This is, I think, the fourth book in the Captain Blood series, but as its the only one I’ve read, I can’t comment on whatever continuing story there might be. I doubt there is one, as there’s really no overarching plot within this volume — each chapter is a more or less independent short story. Peter Blood, once an Irish surgeon, is a wanted man back in Europe for rendering aid to an injured enemy soldier and so is forced into piracy in the Caribbean. He remains, however, a virtuous sort of buccaneer, stealing only from those who deserve to be stolen from. Those people, generally but not exclusively, are the Spanish. Blood’s battles are sometimes won by violence and at other times by cunning. My favorite chapter, called “Sacrilege”, is an example of the later. An English slave trader is robbed by the Spanish commander of Havana. Blood disguises his compatriot as the Cardinal-Archbishop of New Spain and demands ransom from Havana for his release. The ransom, of course, is more than enough to repay the Englishman and make it worth Blood’s while.

No inscriptions.

Bill Had an Umbrella (Louise Platt Hauck, 1934)

Deirdre is a wealthy heiress who stumbles into Bill’s life accidentally, at her wits end about what to do with Precious and Phillipe. P&P are, respectively, her late father’s second wife and stepson. Precious thought the fortune was Bart’s or else there’s little chance she would have married him, but now P&P live on at Riverview on Deirdre’s dime, and Deirdre — so desperate is she to avoid any and all conflict — can’t bear to throw them out.

But back to Bill. Bill’s an ad man, his mother Eleanor is a landscaper. Deirdre was fleeing from her troubles to California, but Bill persuades her to stay with them. His mother’s looking for assistant — at least, that’s the pretext. Bill, of course, really wants Deirdre to stay because he’s fallen madly in love. And it isn’t long before Deirdre responds in kind, although there is the hitch that she’s sorta-kinda already engaged to Arthur. Arthur’s been off for years in India or Tibet or maybe it’s Mexico now — you can never tell with Arthur; his interest burns fierce but is out quickly. Deirdre is quite sure he’s already forgotten, and he would have, were it not for Phillipe.

Phillipe, chafing under what seems to him an exceedingly small allowance, has attempted to win financial independence by investing in a fine and upstanding center for the artistic endeavors and bathtub gin — mostly bathtub gin — but unfortunately it’s just been raided and Phillipe needs cash to stay out of jail. One sob story to Arthur later, twisting the truth only slightly by replacing Deirdre’s name for his own, and Phillipe is in the clear and with several thousand to spare. But Arthur, chivalrously, must of course now marry his technically fiancee.

Cutting the story short, Bill thinks he’s been thrown over and Deirdre can’t forgive him his doubts and both are positively miserable until Eleanor patches it up. Arthur’s already skipped away to chase after opals in Central America, P&P take their newfound riches with them to Paris, and Bill and Deirdre are left at Riverview to plan their Christmas wedding.

Inscription: On the flyleaf, “Bill Platt, From Ann”. Relative, perhaps?

Eben Holden (Irving Bacheller, 1900)

This is a very episodic book and if I tried to summarize the whole detail of the plot I’d be here all day. In the barest outline, Will recounts how Uncle Eb fled from Vermont carrying him on his back when he was only four years old. They found their way to Faraway, New York where they were taken in by the Browers. The Browers had lost their son not many years before and adopt Will as their own. As Will grows up, he falls in love with his adopted sister Hope, but thinks he’s lost her after she moves to the city to complete her music training and begins to mix with a much higher class of people than himself. Will becomes a journalist but puts his career on hold to enlist at the outbreak of the Civil War. He serves nobly, is wounded, and returns home to find Hope waiting for him. Their parents have kept it a secret, but they’ve hit hard times and are at danger of losing the house. At Christmas, Uncle Eb’s present to them is their lost son Nehemiah, who it turns out isn’t dead and is now a wealthy and respected man.

Inscription: signed Mrs. W.A. Leavitt on the front flyleaf.