Helen Dore Boylston, 1949.
Oddly, in the picture on the front Sue doesn’t have her trademark red hair.
As in “Sue Barton: Visiting Nurse,” this book is mainly about Sue’s uncertainty about whether she has done the right thing in giving up her career. “It was absurd to think of herself as wasted!” she thinks near the start of the book, and at the end she says she has been “‘wondering if I were wasting myself … all that wonderful training – all those years of study – it seemed to me that I was just throwing them away for my own personal happiness'”. She realises, however, that, as her husband tells her, “‘There are a lot of happy people in this house because you’re the kind of person you are, and lead exactly the life you do. … You’ve cured Cal of a serious neurosis into the bargain, and prevented an internationally famous artist from becoming a bewildered and embitted old woman'”. Unvisited tombs …
There’s also some discussion of motherhood. Apparently, “‘a man isn’t equipped by nature to spend all his energies out-thinking children twenty-four hours a day,'” Sue tells a local worthy, who, after seeing Sue’s children at their worst, agrees “‘you were correct. They need someone to out-think them. I have known many brilliant men – leaders in their field – but I cannot think of one who would be equal to a task of that proportion. A mother is necessary'”. Though preferably, it seems, a mother who is a “trained nurse” – “‘An intelligent, skilled nurse has a great deal to give motherhood'”.
I like the description of a woman who “was in no way intellectual, her education had been average and didn’t seem to have ‘taken'”, although she has common sense, “warmth, kindness, and a down-to-earth wisdom which Sue found very refreshing”. “The conversation, Sue reflected as they talked, was unquestionably of the type which is lampooned in novels and jeered at by the unthinking, yet it dealt with matters which had been fundamental and highly important since the beginning of time. Without children, Sue and Leila Murray would have had nothing in common. As it was, they shared a rich world of experiences, interests and hopes.”
Less plot-driven than the other books. Very desultory – very little really happens. The “real crisis” mentioned in the blurb is underwhelming – I’m not even sure which of two incidents involving Sue’s children it is.