Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In Defense of the Sentimental

The Wall Street Journal ran a lovely article last Saturday on the enduring popularity of Maud Hart Lovelace's books from the 1940s and 50s, which have recently been re-released by Harper Perennial. I never read the books as a child, but this article and reviews by other bloggers has made me want to read them now. It also makes me long for more YA literature that doesn't contain vampires, mean girls, abusive parents, adolescent sex or other topics that seem currently to be popular. I know that young adults are not immune from troubles and that realistic and gritty books have an important role. But there's also something to be said for not exposing children and teens to weighty issues before their time. While Lovelace's novels might seem sentimental, Alexandra Mullen says that "one of the pleasures of reading Lovelace's work, in fact, is witnessing the many varieties of happy families and seeing in particular the kindness of fathers."

"Lovelace's books show people discovering how to be good, but the books themselves are not goody-goody or preachy. They focus on everyday matters, from playing with paper dolls to keeping a diary to feasting on midnight sandwiches in the kitchen with high-school friends. Within such activities, Lovelace reminds us, we learn a great deal about the ways of the world and the governing of our hearts." 

Did you read Lovelace's books when you were younger? Do you plan to read them now?

You can read the full article from the Wall Street Journal here.  


  1. I have Emily of Deep Valley on my TBR pile and can't wait to get to it. I'd never even heard of Lovelace until she came up for tour last year, but I'm excited to try out her work as I'm hopeful I'll like it because it seems reminscent of L.M. Montgomery (at least that is what the reviews remind me of).

  2. I have Emily of Deep Valley on my TBR list too- it sounds like a great story! I missed out on reading L.M. Montgomery growing up but might have to go read hers too.

  3. I just recently read Emily of Deep Valley and I really really loved it. It's wonderful and charming. I would say there's some great YA out there now, have you read Beth Kephart? Great father figure in Nothing but Ghosts.

  4. Thanks for the suggestion Amy! I'll have to check out Beth Kephart.

  5. I read all of these books when I was younger. My grandmother used to give me two at a time for Christmas and birthdays, and I looooved them. I only recently learned how closely they were based on Maud Hart Lovelace's real friends in real life, and now I want to read a proper biography of Lovelace, to learn more.

  6. I have not read this author.... I know... I know... sometimes I do not know how I miss out on books like this!

    I posted today a linky for the Where Are You Reading participants and you can add your January recaps on this challenge if you would like.

    Have an awesome weekend!