The Guest of Quesnay (Booth Tarkington, 1907)

A drunkard and a drug addict drives away his long-suffering wife with his drinking and drugs. After the divorce, he takes up with a Spanish dancer, but a car accident ends her dancing career and nearly ends him altogether. Two years later, a landscape painter a bit aged-out of being fashionable takes his usual room at a French inn to work through the summer. It’s an out of the way place, but two mysterious guests show up: a famous psychologist and an unknown man. Quesnay, the local chateau, has been taken by some old friends of the painter with the ex-wife hired on as a sort of caretaker. It turns out the unknown man was the dissipated ex-husband, who is also turns out wasn’t too ex- to begin with — his wife having never completed the divorce suit. He was left amnesic after the wreck and the psychologist had the grand plan of rebuilding this blank slate into good, upstanding man and reuniting him with his wife.

I don’t know why, but I can’t ever suspend my disbelief for amnesia stories and this was no real exception. I like Tarkington, though, and enjoyed the rest of it.

Inscriptions: “Westford, Mass” on the front endpaper.

The Invader (Margaret L. Woods, 1907)

Milly is a graduate student at Oxford. After a bout of overexertion and resulting insomnia, she submits to some amateur hypnosis. It gets her to sleep all right, but when she wakes, she’s an entirely different person. Milly was a mousy and studious woman while Mildred is a vivacious flirt. The two personalities fight for control of the body, each holding it for months at a time before the other wrests it away. Neither has more than a hazy recollection of the other’s affairs, and it’s those affairs that become the sticking point. Milly’s devoted to her husband Ian and son Tony. Mildred intends on abandoning them and running away with another man.

A very silly book made all the more so by how seriously it takes itself. That isn’t to say I didn’t like it — I enjoyed every page — but it is a silly book.

No inscriptions.

Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford (George Randolph Chester, 1907)

A man wins and loses fortunes by exploiting technically legal financial maneuvers to relieve the trusting of their hard earned money. From the subtitle, “A Cheerful Account of the Rise and Fall of an American Business Buccaneer”, and from the funny picture on the cover, I was expecting a light, comic satire. No. It is neither light nor comic. His “rise” continues for nearly the entire book, leaving a wake of devastation and suffering behind him, and dragging his long-suffering wife along for the ride. On top of that, Mr. Colonel Judge Wallingford’s comeuppance never really comes. He’s only taken down at last by a fellow scammer, and it feels that, for a man like Wallingford, it will only be a temporary setback .