Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review: The High Road

Title: The High Road

Author: Faith Shannon

Date: 1966

Publisher: Zondervan

ISBN: none

Length: 146 pages

Quote: “I’m just crazy about State U. It’s going to be hours of study but the girls are all so nice…they don’t make fun of me for not dancing and smoking.”

Holly is a Christian student, of course, resolved to take “the high road” through university. She even goes to classes, where she pipes up quoting “the place in Genesis” when “The prof was lecturing on a phase of the evolution idea,” but of course, this being 1966, her major field of study is romance. A rich young man will of course ask for a church wedding on the last page.

There will, of course, be some adventures along the way. Holly meets some people who are rich, but not nice, and is drawn into a sordid criminal plot worthy of an 1866 melodrama. She even gets into physical danger. You knew how she’d get out of it. Zondervan would build its publishing reputation on better books than this, later. In 1966 there was still a market for “B-rated” escape-from-reality novels and movies—television had been invented, but broadcasts did not yet reach every community—and publishing books like The High Road was still profitable.

I can’t say I enjoyed this novel, but it’s an interesting specimen of a genre that no longer exists, and kitsch aficionados may love it. (Fair disclosure: my earliest memories of my parents look a bit like the picture, although in 1966 their hair was still black--I think the characters' gray hair is meant to suggest moonlight. Women achieved that look by teasing their real hair to maximum density, then piling one or more "wiglets" on top of it and holding them all down with a scarf, in real life. I didn't see anyone take the style to real Bride of Frankenstein heights, but in 1966 my mother affected, and even helped otherwise attractive women achieve, hairstyles like Holly's on this book jacket. Plush-lined yellow gloves were real, too, and I even had a pair of plush-topped "mukluk" boots.)

A web search reports that there's a living author known as Faith Shannon, but she's not associated with this kind of books, so currently The High Road is not a Fair Trade Book. This web site still needs to ask for $5 per book, $5 per package, and $1 per online payment. The good news is that six or seven more books of this size would probably fit into the package, so if you scroll down and find newer books you'd like to read, you can add as many books as I can jam into the box for the same $5 shipping charge. (If you bought seven more small books for $5 each, you'd send $45 to the P.O. Box address, or $46 to the e-mail address Message Squirrel Saloli will send when you e-mail a list of the books you want. If any of those books were Fair Trade Books, each author or a charity of the author's choice would receive $1.)