Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Reading Assignment: Wait for Marcy--a recap

Mid-century young adult novels for girls is a fairly narrow niche, but one that rarely fails to entertain.  Wait for Marcy by Rosamund du Jardin (1950) has more WTFs than others I've read, but that just adds to the fun of this genre.
This cover is my favorite, although it's curious
that Marcy's gown, corsage, and Steve's jacket are as described
 in the story, but her hair is the wrong color.

Marcy is fifteen and is ignored by boys, until her older brother Ken, using a little ham-handed psychological manipulation, convinces her that his handsome friend Steve is interested in her.  They go to the dance and Marcy wears the beautiful white formal that her grandmother gave her for Christmas, and they have a great time.  OK, so that brings us to chapter three.  What else could happen?

A predatory girl, Devon, arrives for a summer visit and ensnares Marcy's brother. (They meet at a party in somebody's "rumpus room.")  Ken is broken hearted when Devon, on the eve of her return to New York, tells Ken not to write to her or visit because he is too much of a hick.  What does Ken need to cheer him up?  A bike tour of Wisconsin with his best friend Steve, only Steve refuses to go because he is now besotted with Marcy.  Ken realizes this is all his own fault for manipulating Marcy and Steve together in the first place, so he does a little more manipulating and soon has Marcy fixed up with Biz, one of his other friends.  Steve is pissed, so he agrees to go on the bike trip after all.  But then Steve GETS THE MEASLES.  Ken invites Biz instead, and Biz won't go because NOW HE'S BESOTTED WITH MARCY TOO.  It's a regular Greek tragedy.


Marcy drops Biz and makes up with Steve, and they're very happy, and yet there are still more pages!  Enter Jerry Bonner.  He's Marcy's father's new assistant manager.  Jerry is new to town and is staying at the grim local hotel, so Marcy's father invites him to stay with them until he can find an apartment.  Marcy develops a crush on Jerry, and soon she's turning down dates with Steve so she can stay home and let Jerry teach her how to play bridge.  Steve doesn't like that one bit, no siree bob, and he breaks his date with Marcy for the country club dance.

Jerry has no idea he is the cause of strife between Marcy and her boyfriend.  The night of the dance, Marcy is so glum that she wrecks the dinner table vibe and her parents feel obligated to explain the situation to Jerry, who has a solution:  "...how about me taking Marcy to the dance?...Maybe, when she and Steve see each other there, they'll make up.  Then I can turn her over to him, and he'll realize how unfounded his suspicions of my motives were..."  Marcy's parents think it's an awesome idea for a twenty-seven year old man they've known for two weeks, to take their sixteen year old daughter to a dance.

The dance is nearly over and everybody realizes that Marcy and Jerry are gone.  They were seen, hours earlier, getting into Jerry's car and driving away.  Steve is freaking out.  He's all, "Guys, he's twenty-seven years old, they left in a CAR, they have been gone for two and a half hours, and his last name is ONE LETTER AWAY FROM BEING BONER."  They other kids are like, "Dude, chill.  They probably just went out for a hamburger," and Steve is all, "THERE IS FOOD HEEEERE." They decide to go to Marcy's house to see if she's there.  She's not there, but their whispering and blundering wakes the parents, who are a little slow to start, but eventually arrive at panic mode and realize that maybe they should have vetted this Jerry Bonner person a little more thoroughly.

Marcy's dad is just about to call the police when Marcy and Jerry come breezing into the house, all casual.  Marcy is SHOCKED at how upset and angry her parents are, and that's just a tad disingenuous, don't you think?  Anyway, there is a perfectly innocent explanation.  Jerry is MARRIED.  And his wife sent a telegram during the dance, asking Jerry to pick her up at the train station over in Clay City.  So Jerry went to get her and took Marcy along and then the train was late.  And everybody is SO relieved because Jerry's being married makes everything OK, and THERE'S NOTHING WEIRD ABOUT LEAVING A DANCE WITH A JUVENILE AND NOT TELLING ANYBODY WHERE YOU'RE GOING.  In fact, everybody is so happy, they invite Jerry's wife to stay with them too, and they all eat hamburgers and Marcy and Steve make up and are totes going to have the best relationship ever.
There is no excuse for this atrocious cover art.



There are lots of mid-century cultural WTFs to chew on in this book. The girls are essentially treated like property by their boyfriends.  Marcy's mother, who came of age during the flapper era, wants to know how the dances are arranged.  In her time, a popular girl would only dance a few steps with one boy before another cut in.  This system led to humiliation, as it was mortifying to be a girl that boys didn't cut in on.  Marcy explains that their system is much kinder and that the boys arrange between themselves who their dates will dance with.  It seems the nineteenth century system with the dance card is the most enlightened.  At least it gave the girl some measure of control.  

16 comments:

  1. It's hard to believe that this book isn't a satire. Is the longer title "Wait for Marcy to do Something Stupid"?

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    1. I know. She really does a log of stupid things.

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  2. But...RUMPUS ROOM! It's worth reading just for that.

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  3. I am laughing aloud because your review is so funny all the way through (besotted?) and because I read this book as a pre-teen back in the early 1960s. All us 6th grade girls ordered it from book club, swooned over it, and in fact one of my friends convinced her pregnant mom to name the new baby Marcy. I still know Marcy, now a middle-aged lady.
    a few seconds ago · Like

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    1. LOL! Marcy! I think I went to school with a Marcy or two.

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  4. I guess in the sequel they could have sold Marcy to a Saudi sheik.

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    1. That would fit right in with the women-as-property theme.

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  5. I, too, ordered it from book club! Probably 45 cents! I remember being SO EXCITED when the newest leaflet came to school--all those books! And my mom, bless her, would let me buy as many as I wanted.

    I loved that book (I had the blue cover) and re-read it until the pages fell out, even though I remember thinking it was kind of out-of-date even then (budding feminist foresight, I hope?) Thanks for your comprehensive review--I forgot about the bike trip. And what was her sidekick girlfriend's name, again?

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    1. I loved those leaflets, too - and the great feeling when the books arrived. Sigh.

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    2. Her name was Liz, and she was the lucky one with the rumpus room.

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  6. Hilarious book review! So much drama in such a little paperback.

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  7. Your book review is better reading than the book, I bet. Thank you for the morning chuckle!

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