Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesdays Tomes: Dawn O'Hara, the Girl Who Laughed by Edna Ferber

Tuesday Tomes is a weekly book review of mainly vintage books. If you’ve reviewed a book recently-new or old- send me an e-mail and I will link to your post.

Dawn O’Hara, the Girl Who Laughed by Edna Ferber

“There are a number of things that are pleasanter than being sick in a New York boarding-house when one's nearest dearest is a married sister up in far-away Michigan.


Some one must have been very kind, for there were doctors, and a blue-and-white striped nurse, and bottles and things. There was even a vase of perky carnations--
scarlet ones. I discovered that they had a trick of nodding their heads, saucily. The discovery did not appear to surprise me.

"Howdy-do!" said I aloud to the fattest and reddest carnation that overtopped all the rest. "How in the world did you get in here?"

The striped nurse (I hadn't noticed her before) rose from some corner and came swiftly over to my bedside, taking my wrist between her fingers.

"I'm very well, thank you," she said, smiling, "and I came in at the door, of course."

"I wasn't talking to you," I snapped, crossly, "I was speaking to the carnations; particularly to that elderly one at the top--the fat one who keeps bowing and wagging
his head at me."

"Oh, yes," answered the striped nurse, politely, "of course. That one is very lively, isn't he? But suppose we take them out for a little while now."

And so we meet Dawn O’Hara, exhausted newspaper woman with a wonderful eye for the humor in life-even when ill and alone. Her doctors and sister agree that she must leave New York City to recuperate at her sister’s home in Upper Michigan. There her sister feeds her more eggs than could possibly be good for anyone (to “build her up”) and brings in a family friend and specialist, Dr. Von Gerhard, to examine her…is this a peek into early 20th century medical practice?

Once she’s better, she’s determined to go back to New York and newspaper work. Besides feeling that she must earn her own living she also has a responsibility for the care of her hospitalized mentally ill husband…her sweet brother-in-law has been paying for his care while Dawn recovered. Dr. Von Gerhard steps in and helps her get work at a newspaper in Milwaukee-he feels it will be much less stressful than a NY paper.

This is my favorite part of the book- Edna Ferber herself had just recently finished working on a Milwaukee newspaper (this 1911 novel is Edna Ferber’s first book) and I absolutely loved the description of Milwaukee and all the German immigrants. Be warned: the food will make your mouth water!

The writing here is absolutely perfect as Ferber describes the other residents of the German boarding house/hotel where Dawn lives. It competes with the delightful scene when Dawn received a visit at her sister’s from some neighbors.

Don’t fear- there’s lots more than food and neighbors…for one, plenty of thwarted romance with Dr. Von Gerhard. I couldn’t get enough of this book and took to listening to it without doing anything else!! Surely a good recommendation!

Perfectly read by LeeAnn Howlett, you can download this free audio book here or download the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

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4 comments:

Allie said...

Thanks, I'll check this one out - I've really loved your suggestions and spent many happy hours listening and stitching!

P. said...

Okay, you got me. I just placed a hold on this through the library. Our library has the book "in storage." Hm, I always wondered where the old books went.

Since I had relatives (German) in Milwaukee during that time period, I figured it would be fun to find out more in what sounds like a very good read. Thanks for the recommendation!

Susan said...

My mother was born 29 May 1917 and was named Edna for Edna Ferber. I grew up knowing the author but never knew any of her works. My grandmother obviously read her books and liked them so I'm going to have to check this out.

Micki said...

I will check this book out...It sounds good!
Micki