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Patty’s Fortune

September 24, 2014

Patty’s Fortune is divided pretty clearly into two sections. In the first Bill Farnsworth hosts a house party in an empty hotel, and in the second Philip Van Reypen’s aunt attempts to coerce Patty into marrying Phil. Hopefully that will make it easier to talk about. I’ve been struggling with these last few books, mostly because I have a hard time telling them apart.

The house party thing is, I guess, Wells’ chance to revisit the premise of The Dorrance Domain, except with wealthy young people being waited on by shoals of servants instead of children in straitened circumstances mostly waiting on themselves. The party consists of twelve people, including the Kenerleys as chaperones, a new man called Chick Channing, and no Philip. Yay!

The party would be a complete success (Kit Cameron channels Mr. Rochester! Mona and Roger finally get engaged!) except that it’s indirectly the means of Patty’s introduction to Maudie Adams, a theatrical promoter who tries to convince her to go on the stage. Patty is maybe at her least appealing in this book — more human, but not in a likable way. It’s always been a mystery how Patty stays unspoiled in the midst of so much wealth and attention, but sometimes it seems like the answer to that question is, “Well, maybe she doesn’t.”

Without really seeming to have changed, Patty looks as vain and as spoiled as we’ve ever seen her. I guess that’s mostly when she wants to go on the stage, though. Once we get to the second half of the book, all of my sympathies are with her again. Otherwise some of them would have to be with Lady Van, Phil’s aunt, who tries to subtly and then less subtly coerce Patty into an engagement with Phil. Or with Patty’s parents, who willingly go along with the more subtle coercion. Or with Phil, which, no.

When trying to groom Patty for Phil doesn’t do the trick, Lady Van, in her final illness, tries to get Patty to promise to marry him, telling her that she (Lady Van) will die right then and there if she (Patty) doesn’t. It’s underhanded and gross, and thankfully Fred and Nan Fairfield agree with me, because I was starting to distrust them.

Then…well, as if the emotional blackmail wasn’t enough, Lady Van passes her illness on to Patty (I know, I’m being unfair, she didn’t do it on purpose) and between that and her stress over the promise Lady Van forced out of her, Patty ends up in pretty bad shape.

It’s cool, though. She’s saved through vaguely supernatural means and also Bill Farnsworth.

Next up is Patty Blossom. We’re on the home stretch, guys.

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