Sunday, July 09, 2006

Brave Little Hats

When I write about Grace Livingston Hill, (if you are a fan, too) there are just too many things to say about her books. Why do we love them? If I had to choose a word, it would probably be that they are Hope-full.

In the '70's, the Waltons became a big hit. A year later, Little House on the Prairie became another big hit. The critics needed a term to signify this explosion of "morality" shows--they called them Hope Operas. That's what I think of, when I think of my Grace books.

Some are Definitely better than others. These I have read over and over and over. I always read the "blizzard" books in the heat of summer--like The Substitute Guest. And, what is the one where the girl almost dies in the snow, lying on her mother's grave? I love Crimson Roses, Re-Creations, the Honor Girl, and Maris. But then, I also love Brentwood, Beauty for Ashes, and...well, I do have about 60 or 70 of them!

If you are a devotee, you will know the term "brave little hats." All the heroines had them--well, the "poor" heroines had them. If the girl was rich, her hats were...cowardly? Either the girl "brushed the hat till the pink velvet roses shone like new" or "the hat had already served her for three seasons, with its brave little feather," or she wore gardenias for a hat--"they were all she needed for an ornament on her shapely head." But, of course, the Bravest little hat was the one Hilda Lessing made in The Red Signal--she ran away from the bad guys straightaway from the kitchen where she was being forced to work, jumped a train, but thought she'd be conspicuous bareheaded (this was WWI). So she "whipped up" her brown denim apron into a semblance of an enlisted man's hat, "and no one knew, she had been so clever." Then she saw the general in charge of the whole Allied forces, and told them of the German plot. And the hero said, "oh, I thought it was a clever little hat." The hats, the hats--always the hats.

And what is it with Girls Walking Out? There was the girl in Crimson Roses. Also the one in the snow I mentioned before. Rainbow Cottage. Exit Betty. Not Under the Law. The Red Signal. I could go on, you know, this is not an exhaustive list!

But We Love Our Grace. When it came time to name our seventh child, *I* chose Norah Grace. Norah for the maid in The White Lady--she was so Irish. And Grace, obviously. (Of course, it is also a "virtue" name.) My dear husband wanted Abigail Joy. When she was born, he said "she looks just like you" and let me name her Norah. So I have my Grace. She, of course, will inherit my collection. When I'm DEAD. I'll still be reading them up to that time...

Okay, this will be the last post (maybe) about G.L.H. But I had to share a little about one of my passions...thanks for listening.


Mary Ann said...

Thanks for linking to my blog! You will have to comment sometime.:-) Norah is one of my all-time favorite girl's names; unfortunately, it doesn't sound too great with our last name.:-( I have read some of Grace Livingston Hill's books in the past- Marcia Schuyler, Miranda and Pheobe Deane(?) and loved them.

Terri said...

I think that her descriptions of the hats is one of my favorites parts of her books. I love the description of the little black hat the heroine (I forgot her name!) made in White Orchids.