Monday, June 6, 2016

Book Review: Belle-Mere

Title: Belle-Mere 

Author: Kathleen Norris--not the living one

Date: 1931

Publisher: Blakiston / Doubleday

ISBN: none

Length: 349 pages

Quote: "Phil's mother is different. She's done everything a human being could do to make me feel the family!"

Famous Last Words. Phil is a good man--a bit pompous, a bit neglectful, but basically good. He got to be as likable as he is because his mother is a likable person, too. He chose a wife who's a likable person, too. His wife and his mother honestly like each first.

Then they try actually living together and the story turns into Victorian melodrama. Somehow you don't believe Shelley would really divorce Phil, have a mental breakdown or be wrongfully hospitalized on the claim that she'd have one, any more than she'd abandon or abuse a child. This is not that sort of novel. This is the sort of novel where Phil and Shelley think about all sorts of horrible melodramatic possibilities before they get up the nerve to do what their author has been showing us they should have done from the beginning.

The earlier American author known as Kathleen Norris produced dozens of bestselling novels, back in the days when writers had illiteracy, but not movies and TV, to contend with. Nobody ever called her work great, but plenty of people found it good enough to get them off to sleep or through a long commute. So successful was Belle-Mere that, although it's definitely vintage, I can offer it for standard rather than collector prices. If you want the dust jacket, buy it from the Amazon Associate who uploaded the picture of the dust jacket, shown above. If you'll settle for a well-used reprint (with that vintage "Due to wartime restrictions" bit on a flyleaf), buy it from either of the addresses shown at the bottom of the screen for $5 per book + $5 per package. At least two, possibly four, copies would fit in a package.