Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Honor Girl by Grace Livingston Hill

I've often compared the women in Grace Livingston Hill's books to the women in Agatha Christie's as they both had books published during the same time period.
There isn't one woman in Hill's books (that's not on the dark side) who drinks, smokes, plays cards, dances (and divorce is that terrible word never thought of).
Christie's women are the complete opposite--drinking, dancing and partying are many times a way of life, plus so many are divorced are wanting one.

Are Christie's women evil and Hill's women saints? I believe many of Hill's heroines take their belief system too far, though it's understandable since she wrote Christian books, and the women are most likely set up as role models for young girls. 
Though the women are extremely trusting of men they hardly know and fall in love almost immediately. The characters in her books believe they know a decent man just on the basis of meeting him, and every bad man shows his faults from the start. This situation is misleading--we all know that evil can be covered up with fine manners and a flair for words.

Christie's main characters live a more flamboyant lifestyle, but that doesn't make them wrong, just different. Would the protagonist from The Honor Girl care for one of Christie's characters? Maybe no, but they might find something rare and good in each other and overlook the others faults of being too saintly or not saintly enough.
Though Christie's characters are better at concealing the evil that dwells inside, hidden by smiles, actions and kind words. It's shocking to find out the character that I liked the most turns out to be a murdering fiend.

The Honor Girl is my favorite book by Grace Hill though the beginning part is rather boring. Elsie is so beloved by everyone for her brilliance in her studies and athletics.
After her mother died, she left her father and two brothers to live with her aunt. She hates to even visit her old home and rarely speak to the men she left behind.

One Saturday she must go to her old home to retrieve a book, and she finds her brothers and father live in great filth and poverty. She doesn't understand since they all work and can afford a maid to clean for them. 
 Standing in horror while looking around the large house, she remembers her father asked her in the last year to move home. At this point, I want her to run and never look back, but she starts to think of the youngest brother, and how his sheets are ripped to shreds and he covers up with coats and an old shawl that belonged to her mother.
She decides to spend the day cleaning and cooking a decent meal, leaving before they arrive home, so as in doubt who their house fairy is.
She hires two women (this part is racist now and should have been racist back then) to help her clean, and orders several items from a department store. The three women are able to make the house comfortable, plus Elsie is able to make all the beds with new sheets and comforters, and add many other normal conveniences such as towels.
This was a time period when a 12 hour/6 day work week was mandatory, and no one is at home nor will they be home until evening, so she has the entire day to make this happen and finishes the meal minutes before the men arrive home.

After arriving back at her Aunt's house, she realizes that she's not happy away from her family and starts to think about moving back home. Every Saturday she goes back and to add more comfort to the home, and her brothers find her. Oh, how they love her, and she can't resist any longer to be away from the home she should never have left.

Elsie has many trials along the way--her father is an alcoholic, and she wants her brothers to attend college which they finally kowtow to her wishes. Along the way, she meets the love of her life as it wouldn't be a Grace Livingston Hill book without a love story looming.

I read this book several times a year, it's a nice change from zombie books and it's quite satisfying, and I love books about my God.