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 Midlander (Booth Tarkington, 1924)

The younger son of a nouveau riche Midwestern family has crazy ideas about the future of his small city and fights to be a part of its growth despite being laughed at by everyone. His grandmother cuts him out of her will when he marries a New Yorker rather than the neighbor girl and her judgement eventually proves correct. Third part of the Growth trilogy.