Career Romances for Young Moderns

Career Romances for Young Moderns were a series of books published from the 1950s-1970s about young women striking out in different career fields. But because these were career romances, the books usually ended when the women gleefully give up their career for a man. The books paint a hilarious picture of a business world that's thankfully out-of-date. They're a little hard to come by today, but can be found in used bookstores and online.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Greetings from Glenna

"Greetings from Glenna," by Marjory Hall, 1953

Main character: Glenna Holbrook
Career: Greeting-card company employee
Gael's grade: B+

This is the first CRFYM by Marjory Hall that I'm reviewing. Marjory Hall is perhaps one of the most well-known career-romance authors, not just writing career-romances, but writing all kinds of young-adult literature. Her books are always a step above most of those written by no-name authors -- in character, in plot, in flow, all around.

Trauma #1: Due to a mysterious scandal in which a dishonest employee somehow bankrupted her family business, Glenna can't go off to nearby Camden College with her three friends as they'd planned. Instead she must stay home, work, and jealously watch them dive into college life. Aw, Glenna, don't sweat it. They're all in it for their MRS degree, anyway. (And I find it tres ironic that "Camden College" is the name Bret Easton Ellis later used when he fictionalized Bennington in "Rules of Attraction" and other books. Maybe BEE was a fan.)
Trauma #2: She gets her job at Warwick Publishing Company via Miss Brick, a woman her family must take in as a boarder to raise money, and must struggle with their new relationship as executive and underling while living in the same house. Miss Brick's kind of a prick, when it comes down to it, as unmarried career women of A Certain Age generally are in this genre.

Prince Charming: Peter Graham
What's standing in their way?: Not that much, really. This is much more a story about Glenna and greeting cards than about the romance, although she is unsure about whether he's the right guy for her for a while. I kind of skipped over the parts about Peter, actually, looking for more bad greeting-card verses.

Signs o' the times:
1) My copy of this book has handwritten notes in it, including "If this book should ever roam; box its ears and send it home" and "Given by my mother on the Saturday of Nov. 20, 1954, Patricia Anderson, 13 years old." Patricia Anderson, where are you today? You'd be 65, if I figure correctly. Did Glenna inspire you to seek out work with Hallmark, or did you find your own Peter Graham somewhere near Haight-Ashbury? I guess you might have been a bit old for that by 1968.

2) The greeting cards themselves are so unlike the mass-produced Hallmark cards of today. They have hand-glued pussy willows on them, women (called "girls," of course) hand-apply satin, glitter, lace, and more. The cards sell for a whopping 10-15 cents, by the way, not the $2.99 plus of today. At one point, Glenna stages a "greeting card shower" for two little old ladies, reminding their friends to all send them cards for their birthdays.

3) When Glenna finally writes verses for cards, they are unbelievably awful to our modern ears, but one of them still gets bought by the company. They include: "Love me, love my dog," "Even worm will turn -- when coaxed!," "Dial ME 2 YOU for a Merry Christmas," and "I'm not the kind who'd kiss and tell, I'd kiss and yell -- for more." Oh fer trite. Makes Maxine of Shoebox Greetings look like Faulkner.

Quote that says it all: "Nancy nudged Glenna once and they stood silently watching one card have a perfumed wafer, a wedding ring, a piece of white satin ribbon and a swatch of lace that looked like a wedding veil, all attached to a single sheet. The bow-tiers seemed to interest Nancy the most, and she made Miss Prentiss repeat twice her statement that two or three dozen bow-tiers had been known to tie more than two hundred thousand bow ties in one week." Well, that's her perogative, but I'm more fascinated with the "perfumed wafer." Was this, say, a hidden wafer, just to make the card scented, or was it supposed to be a communion wafer, or what? Because either way, weird.

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  • At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    All of these are so great!! Makes me more than happy to have been a teen of the 90s.

    Please keep posting!


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