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The Glad Books, Part 1

June 5, 2007

My room is full of new bookshelves, and they look very clean and nice. The rest of the room, however, is a mess. I’m not quite sure whether it’ll get worse before it gets better, or whether I’ve just passed the middle point.

While I’ve been working on my room, I’ve also read a couple of Pollyanna books that I got from my grandparents’ apartment last summer, which is probably why I haven’t made as much progress as I ought to have.

Until I found these books, I didn’t realize that there were more than two Pollyanna books, but apparently there were about twelve. The list in the front of my two sequels show ten: the first two written by Eleanor Porter followed by four written by Harriet Lummis Smith and four by Elizabeth Borton.

It’s always confusing to read a few scattered books in a series and only have a vague idea of what’s happening in between. I read Pollyanna quite a few times as a kid — most kids have read it, I think, or at least most girls. It’s one of those undeniable classics. And everyone knows the story, right? Pollyanna goes to live with her Aunt Polly in Vermont and cheers up the entire town, including her aunt, her aunt’s former suitor Dr. Chilton, and John Pendleton, who used to be in love with Pollyanna’s mother and ends up adopting a poor orphan called Jimmy Bean. She also gets run over by a car and loses the use of her legs for a while, but after a year or so she’s able to walk again.

The sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up, is less well-known, but I think I might like it better. I don’t know how much of that is because the first-half-visiting-in-Boston/second-half-taking-place-about-six-years-later format is so much like An Old-Fashioned Girl and how much is due to the hilarious, convoluted, and excessive romantic misunderstandings. Pollyanna, aged thirteen or so, goes to stay with Mrs. Ruth Carew in Boston while her Aunt Polly and Dr. Chilton go to Germany. Pollyanna’s staying with Mrs. Carew, a young widow, because Mrs. Carew’s sister Della knows Pollyanna and thinks she would do her bitter sister some good. She does, of course, and also introduces Ruth to a crippled boy named Jamie who may or may not be her long-lost nephew, and a poor working girl named Sadie Dean. Ruth adopts Jamie, not knowing whether he really is her nephew, but loving him anyway.

Six or seven years pass. Pollyanna and her aunt and uncle have been living abroad all this time, but now Dr. Chilton is dead, and Pollyanna and Polly return to. They’ve also lost a lot of money, and they end up taking Ruth and Jamie as summer boarders. Ruth brings her secretary, too, who turns out to be Sadie Dean.

The romantic complications set in immediately. First: Jimmy Pendleton, formerly Jimmy Bean, is in love with Pollyanna, and evenually she realizes she’s in love with him, too. Jamie and Sadie are in love with each other and neither knows how the other feels about them. Similarly, John Pendleton and Ruth Carew fall in love.

Then: Ruth and Jamie think that John and Pollyanna are in love, and eventually convince Jimmy of it, after he’s abandoned the idea that Pollyanna and Jamie are in love with each other, which tormented him for quite a while. Pollyanna and John both think at various times that Jimmy and Ruth are in love. And Sadie, like Jimmy, thinks that Jamie loves Pollyanna.

Eventually, everything gets sorted out, and they discover that Jimmy is Ruth’s real long-lost nephew, but they decide not to tell Jamie because he would feel bad.

That brings us to the two sequels I’ve just read, but I think they’re going to have to go in another post.

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