Love StoriesMarch 24, 2012
I blame Eleanor for the amount of Mary Roberts Rinehart I’ve been reading lately. Every time I move on to something else, she tells me which Rinehart she’s reading and I get jealous.
Anyway, I read Love Stories last week. I was pretty sure I hadn’t read it before, but the first story seemed awfully familiar. It turns out I’d already read it in a magazine. But it holds up well. I mean, it’s Rinehart. Of course it does.
This book is kind of a precursor to the hospital romance comics from the 1970s that I read at my grandmother’s apartment when I was younger. All but the last two stories are set in hospitals, and all but the last one are romances. Lots of doctors and nurses. Lots of incidents recycled from or for K.
And mostly it’s fun. There were a couple of stories I didn’t like: “In the Pavilion” is an unconvincing nurse/patient romance. And ”Are We Downhearted? No!” made me increasingly upset as the heroine got less interesting and less independent in order to become “worthy” of the hero, who was kind of an ass. But I liked the rest, some more than others. “Twenty-Two” makes an excellent start to the book, because it’s, like, 90% of the other stories in a nutshell. If you don’t like “Twenty-Two,” you might as well put the book down. Which is not to say that it’s the best story in the book, although it’s definitely in the running. I think “Jane” might have been the most successful story, but it was also the least ambitious. It’s funny and sweet and not much else, but it doesn’t need to be.
“The Game” was sort of the most interesting to me. It has nothing to do with hospitals whatsoever, and not much to do with romance. The Scottish engineer has a vaguely tragic love story in his past, but the story’s about his relationship with the red-headed orphan he sort of adopts, and it’s painfully adorable.
I’m not feeling super enthusiastic about Love Stories right now, but I enjoyed it a lot when I was reading it. The stories here are distilled Rinehart, so you get <em>all</em> the feelings, but not much that will stick with you after they’re gone. Which is maybe what light reading is for.