And So They Were MarriedFebruary 11, 2012
Florence Morse Kingsley’s And So They Were Married is the story of a young woman who, after her engagement, falls under the influence of a social-climbing friend and begins to live beyond her means. My great-grandmother used to say that cheap is dear and dear is cheap, i.e. don’t practice false economy; buy good stuff and it will last. Elizabeth North’s friend Evelyn Tripp, though, seems to have internalized the “dear is cheap” part without actually understanding what it means. She insists — and somehow convinces Elizabeth — that she “can’t afford” not to live a fashionable and expensive lifestyle. Elizabeth succumbs to this non-logic, but her husband has a good head on his shoulders, and her grandmother is awesome, and with a little help from them the basically sensible Elizabeth eventually pulls herself out of her debt spiral.
Stories where you can see that the protagonist is making stupid mistakes and you know exactly what’s going to happen — and that it’s going to be bad — make me really unhappy. Impending doom is rarely fun, especially when it’s grindingly miserable doom rather than far-fetched and dramatic doom. Stories about people going into debt, in particular, make me tense and uncomfortable. And obviously And So They Were Married is 90% that very thing, and if it weren’t so short, I absolutely would not have finished it. But that’s not to say that it isn’t also pretty cute, or that the ending wasn’t satisfying enough to take the bad taste out of my mouth, or that lots of people who aren’t me won’t be completely fine with it.