Love InsuranceMay 18, 2013
I was in the mood for something light and funny the other day, so I went to see what the internet had to offer in the way of non-Charlie Chan novels by Earl Derr Biggers. I found Love Insurance, which was exactly what I was looking for, except in that it didn’t really thrill me in any way.
The premise is kind of excellent, to a point, and if the book had revolved around Owen Jephson, underwriter for Lloyd’s of London, I think I would have liked it more. Jephson specializes in insuring incedibly peculiar things: he’s insured an actor against losing weight, a duchess against rain at her garden party, etc. I want very badly for Herbert George Jenkins to have written a book about Jephson, but sadly the world doesn’t work that way. And Biggers is more concerned first with Allan, Lord Harrowby, who wants to insure his wedding date, and then, more centrally, with Dick Minot, who Lloyd’s sends to Florida and protect their assets by making sure that Harrowby’s wedding to the beautiful Cynthia Meyrick goes as planned. Minot, inevitably, falls in love with Cynthia almost at first sight, and that’s only the first of many complications — there are jewel thieves, long-lost relatives, blackmail, and a society matron who hires a guy to write bon mots for her. And that list barely scrapes the surface.
In general, I really, really like about the first 3/4 of any given Earl Derr Biggers book, but this one felt more consistent. I never liked it as much as the beginning of Seven Keys to Baldpate or The Agony Column, but I liked it pretty much equally all the way through. Possibly that was because it was pretty intensely predictable, but that was okay, beasue it was all pretty silly and fun, too.
This is one of those books I sort of vaguely like but can’t work up any enthusiasm about, and I don’t know whether that’s my fault, or if it’s that Biggers didn’t expend any effort on characterization, or that the most interesting character disappeared after the first few chapters or what. I suspect a lot of people will enjoy it more than I did.