The Career of Claudia

April 19, 2017

I raced through Frances Mary Peard’s The Career of Claudia, but not because I liked it. Actually, I can only think of one scene I’m fairly sure I enjoyed.

Claudia is a wealthy young woman who’s just graduated from college. She’s emerged a Socialist and a landscape gardener, and those are the only things she wants to talk about. When she moves in with some spinster cousins, she expects to use their house mostly as a home base between landscaping jobs. She meets a nice young man named Harry Hilton at her cousins’ house, and he invites her to come do some landscaping at his estate, mostly because he’s falling in love with her.

Claudia goes, and insists loudly on being treated as a professional rather than as a guest, and cuts down a few of Harry’s favorite trees, and confuses his mother, and generally makes herself obnoxious. Then Harry’s friend Arthur Fenwick invites her to work on his cousin’s estate, mostly because he wants her to fall in love with him.

Peard definitely kept me guessing about how the romance plot was going to turn out, perhaps because none of the people involved seemed to be suited to each other in any way. She manages as well as she can under those circumstances, and I think I really did like it when Captain Fenwick received a couple of massive blows to his ego. I also liked Helen Arbuthnot, who used to be involved with Fenwick, and Claudia’s cousin Philippa, who has the sense of humor that Claudia completely lacks. I would have liked Philippa and her sisters more if Peard had spent any time on them. I thought I could like Harry, but for that I would need less people talking about how great he is, and more actual evidence.

Characters are usually what make or break a book for me, and I know that I would have liked this one a lot more if I felt any warmth for anyone in it. But I also recognize that a lot of it was well done. There’s a lot of exactly the kind of character analysis I like–if only I had any way to connect to it.

When I went to tag this post, I found I already had a tag for Peard, and my first guess–that she must be one of the authors of The Miz Maze–turned out to be correct. That makes a certain amount of sense, because The Career of Claudia is an overdose of the detachment I enjoyed in The Miz Maze.

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