Update: Since this post was written, a decision was made to publish Emilie Loring’s novels as e-books. See more about that here.
“Know the best definition of plot? A problem and its solution.” Emilie Loring wrote this in Fair Tomorrow, and that’s just what we have here. A problem and its solution.
I received a message on my Facebook page: “Perfect timing on the Blog!” The writer went on to say that she was spending her Thanksgiving in a cabin: “It’s totally off the grid, at the top of a mountain, no TV! I was looking for a sweet book to take—I’ll be going to the bookstore tomorrow to look for one of these books.” I love it when readers find Emilie for the first time, and I’m always ready with suggestions of favorites, but here’s the problem: Emilie Loring’s books are not currently in print. What’s a new reader to do?
Over 37 million Emilie Loring books have been sold. Rest assured, there are a lot of copies out there.
Emilie Loring’s original fans snapped them up as soon as they were published, triggering second and third printings within a month of publication. One man bought fifty copies of Lighted Windows in 1930 to send to everyone on his Christmas list. Libraries bought multiple copies for the lines of faithful readers at their circulation desks, waiting to check out the latest release.
“My first novel made a slight stir.” “I wouldn’t call ten printings ‘slight.’” Beckoning Trails
Within a year of their original publication by Little, Brown or Penn, Grosset and Dunlap brought out their “first” and succeeding editions, and additional publishers created specialty collections in matching bindings. In the sixties, Emilie Loring’s novels were published in paperback by Bantam, and a new generation purchased full sets. My sisters and I bought our paperbacks in the Sprouse Reitz dime store. So where are all of these books?
[Full disclosure: I have four copies of each in my house. I can explain.]
Some copies of Emilie Loring’s books remained in their libraries. One of the best collections is in the Blue Hill Public Library, which has twenty-seven titles available for checkout. If you take that trip to Blue Hill that I recommended in The Past Comes Calling, you can have the perfect reading material for your cottage or inn. In the Boston area, you can check out sixteen Emilie Loring novels to read at home, and there are fifty-six more copies to be read on site. Maybe this is a good time to visit the Boston Public Library’s courtyard (Ssshhh… It’s a secret.).
Wherever you live, be sure to query the library catalog by author name, because some of the categories assigned to Emilie Loring’s books are, to say the least, non-intuitive, sometimes even bordering on cynical: romantic suspense fiction, psychological fiction, inheritance and succession, deception (?!). Clearly not fans. Ask about interlibrary loan, and also check out the Friends of the Library sales. As competition for shelf space increases, older titles are, sadly, relegated to the Saturday sale.
Three generations have read Emilie’s books, and many have gotten them just that way—passed down from one generation to another. So ask around. Maybe an aunt or cousin has a collection. Or an uncle. Emilie counted many men among her fans, because, after all, romance is for everyone.
If you like to mix pleasure with your searching, visit old bookshops. My husband and I found a dear one in Wiscasset, Maine. Eliot Healy Books and Prints has an old house filled to brimming with antique volumes, a barn out back to catch the overflow, and a soothing garden in between. Better yet, there was a nice shelf of Emilie Loring books, and I bought only one, a first edition. If it’s easier to shop from home, check online sellers for used copies–Amazon, AbeBooks, eBay…
My friend will leave soon for her mountain cabin, and she has one more option online. Copyright restrictions have not allowed Emilie Loring’s books to appear electronically, with one exception: Emilie’s first novel, The Trail of Conflict. Google Books, Amazon, and the Hathi Trust all have it available for download.
“She dreaded to enter the next room. Her life might be changed for all time, doubtless would be, for she would marry Stephen Courtlandt if he wanted to save his estate enough to take her on her own conditions. She flushed then whitened.” The Trail of Conflict
Yes, that will do nicely for a mountain cabin away from civilization, especially since the story takes place on a remote ranch in the Wyoming mountains.
Whether you are reading Emilie Loring’s books for the first time or the tenth, an extra benefit is possible by reading them in order of publication. Emilie set each of her stories in the year in which it was written, so you can experience a year-by-year window into contemporary times. James Trafford requests that the curtains be put on the roadster before setting out in Here Comes the Sun! and Gail Trevor works out a menu with war-rationed foods in When Hearts Are Light Again. Emilie exhorted:
“Contemporary fiction is contemporary history. “Read it.”
We’ve resolved our plot, but one last pointer: Emilie wrote thirty novels. After her death, twenty-two more were cobbled together from partial manuscripts and finished by a ghostwriter. There are some entertaining reads in this later group, but to know Emilie Loring best, read the books written entirely by her. Check for copyrights through 1950. These thirty novels established the reputation on whose coattails the later volumes rode.
I want to write the kind of story—it will be just as much a part of the real world—that will cause persons who see ‘Melissa Barclay’ on a cover to plump down their problems—and incidentally the price—and seize the book. If, when they reach ‘the end’ they forget to go back for their problems and march blithely toward the day’s work pepped up and refreshed, refreshed—it’s a great word, isn’t it—I shall feel that I have achieved something. Beckoning Trails
Happy hunting! If you know more places to find Emilie Loring’s books, please share below.