Sienna's Reviews > Bab: A Sub-Deb

Bab by Mary Roberts Rinehart
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's review
May 24, 2012

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bookshelves: 2012, kindle
Recommended to Sienna by: Catherine Siemann
Read in May, 2012

A light, very funny read written and set during the first world war. Barbara Archibald is the sort of teenager whose presence would drive most anyone nuts but who possesses an irresistible narrative voice. I mean, seriously:

If I were to write down all the surging thoughts that filled my brain this would have to be a Novel instead of a Short Story. And I am not one who beleives in beginning the life of Letters with a long work. I think one should start with breif Romanse. For is not Romanse itself but breif, the thing of an hour, at least to the Other Sex?

Women and girls, having no interest outside their hearts, such as baseball and hockey and earning saleries, are more likely to hug Romanse to their breasts, until it is finaly drowned in their tears.

And a bit of wisdom from Carter Brooks, who occasionally mistakes mothballs for gumballs:

"Bab, just a word of advise for you. Pick your Husband, when the time comes, with care. He ought to have the solidaty of an elephant and the mental agilaty of a flee. But no imagination, or he'll die a lunatic."

Indeed, four of the five stories here — written as diary entries and themes for school, or, more ambitiously, for profit — revolve around Bertie Wooster-style romantical catastrophes. It's the fifth, which finds Bab earnestly pledging herself to her nation's war efforts, that really shines. Naivety and hilarity aside, I was surprised at how moving I found the final pages, in which she faces a much more serious threat than hand-me-down clothing, boys as foolish as she eventually — kind of — proves herself not to be, atrocious spelling and unwise, extravagant purchases. Oh, Bab, I wish you (and your family, and the men who marry into it) nothing but happiness. Thanks to Catherine for bringing Bab: A Sub-Deb to my attention: Kindle-users, take note, for it's free! And your life will be the better for reading passages like this gem:

Now I have a qualaty which is well known at school, and frequently used to obtain holadays and so on. It may be Magnatism, it may be Will. I have a very strong Will, having as a child had a way of lying on the floor and kicking my feet if thwarted. In school, by fixing my eyes ridgidly on the teacher, I have been able to make her do as I wish, such as no calling on me when unprepared, et cetera.

Full well I know the danger of such a Power, unless used for good.

I now made up my mind to use this Will, or Magnatism, on Leila, she being unsuspicious at the time and thinking that the thought of Marriage was her own, and no one else's.

Being still awake when the Familey came upstairs, I went into her room and experamented while she was taking down her hair.

"Well?" she said at last. "You needn't stare like that. I can't do my hair this way without a Swich."

"I was merely thinking," I said in a lofty tone.

"Then go and think in bed."

"Does it or does it not concern you as to what I was thinking?" I demanded.

"It doesn't greatly concern me," she replied, wraping her hair around a kid curler, "but I darsay I know what it was. It's written all over you in letters a foot high. You'd like me to get married and out of the way."

I was exultent yet terrafied at this result of my Experament. Already! I said to my wildly beating heart. And if thus in five minutes what in the entire summer?

(Disaster. Marvelous, awe-inspiring disaster.)
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