"Mirthful Haven"

"Mirthful Haven" by Booth Tarkington

This is my first Tarkington book. I've been looking for a copy of The Magnificent Ambersons, a title I found on a list of Pulitzer Prize winners (1918), but haven't yet located one. I found this at a sale for a couple of dollars and couldn't pass up the chance to try out a new (to me) author.

It's the story of a young girl, Edna Pelter, growing up in a seaside town with a father who is suspected of making a living under less than legal circumstances. The family is considered a nuisance by the town's well-to-do summer cottagers who would like to see them and their rundown habitation gone from their lovely little vacation town. Edna is getting a bad reputation hanging around with the wrong boys so her aunt steps in and takes her off to live with her.

Edna is known by her aunt's name, Shellpool, in her new life, where she becomes acquainted with some of the same people who spend summers in her hometown. As Edna Shellpool she is invited into their social circles, attending their dinners and parties, and being accepted by people who would have nothing to do with her if they knew her real identity.

Then her aunt dies and she moves back home to live with her father. When her new friends arrive for the summer she tries to clandestinely live both lives and stay friends with everyone, but that, of course, gets more and more complicated until it inevitably all blows up.

It's an interesting story, one that draws you in and keeps you interested, with believable characters and well described settings. It's the kind of book you can enjoy reading without feeling driven to get to the end to find out what happens. I didn't mind putting it down when I had to, but I was always glad to pick it up again, too. I'm looking forward to finding The Magnificent Ambersons and to checking out his backlist which I think has over thirty other titles.    


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