I Hear Adventure Calling

I'll take a chance on Maine
“I’ll take a chance on Maine.”

Best-selling novelist Emilie Loring signed the contract for a “work to follow Beckoning Trails” with no idea what she might write about next–only that she would. She knew that it wouldn’t take place in Boston or Blue Hill. After the death of her husband a few months before, she needed time away, time in a new place with new ideas, time to gather herself together.

“It is only for the summer. When fall comes I will have a brand-new outlook, will have recovered my sense of direction, will know what I want to do with my life.”  I Hear Adventure Calling 

Sat Eve Post Aug 2 1947 Ogunquit
Ogunquit on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post that same summer

She chose Ogunquit, Maine.

It was vacation season and the town was a paradise for vacationists who liked the sea. They were sprinkled over boardinghouse lawns, perched on boardinghouse rails, crowded the street in every variety of sports clothing.

I Hear Adventure Calling

Ogunquit is south of Portland and occupies both bluff and beach. Featured on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post that summer of 1947, the seaside town lured artists, authors, and summer vacationers.

Chief among Ogunquit’s attractions is the Marginal Way, a mile-long walk along the prominent cliff between Ogunquit Beach and Perkins Cove.

This is what it feels like to be a seabird, a poet, a pirate, on top of the world. To take a vertiginous walk on the edge of beauty, high over the ocean, while waves pound rocks into sculptures far below, and toss starfish and tiny shells into tidal pools scooped out like cauldrons brewing the ultimate plateau de fruits de merTake a deep blue breath of Atlantic air and step onto the Marginal Way, which winds from Ogunquit Beach to tiny Perkins Cove… 

[see the rest of Annie Graves’ Yankee article here]

Emilie walked through the garden of her hotel, still unsure what she might write about, when another guest challenged, “What can a writer find to write about here?”

Emilie replied, “Can’t a writer get a story wherever there is human nature?” And off she went to prove it.

In the story that became I Hear Adventure Calling, Fran Phillips leaves Boston for the Maine coast in search of adventure.

“I have lived such a tight little life for the last few years that I want to get away. Besides, I hear adventure calling.”

Emilie wove elements of Ogunquit into her story.

She attended the Ogunquit Playhouse, now on the National Register of Historic Places, and so did Fran.

The gay comedy had left the audience refreshed and rested, its problems pushed into the background.

Ogunquit’s Museum of American Art

Several small galleries in the art colony at Perkins Cove suggested Fran’s new position. As a sales assistant for the Sargent Gallery, she is soon embroiled in the mystery of a missing painting.

The work was intensely interesting, the contact with outstanding achievement stimulating. Keeping in step with this job would leave no time for fear.

There’s a definite sense that Fran and Emilie are the same in this story. Emilie’s  trademark optimism is challenged by fears, and no wonder. At eighty-one, her best and closest supports–her parents, siblings, and husband–had all died. She had left Beacon Hill and her beloved Boston to move back into the house in Wellesley Hills where she had raised her children. Her elder son, Robert, lived there now, but she missed Victor’s easy company, and she wasn’t ready to become a back number.

Maine inspiration
“Forget the past and make the present something vital and inspiring.”

With twenty-seven novels to her credit, she set herself the goal of at least three more and headed on her own to the Maine coast where she’d always found strength and inspiration.

I Hear Adventure Calling cover
I Hear Adventure Calling

Like Emilie, Fran chafed at being under someone else’s control. In her case, that was Myles Jaffray, appointed her guardian until her brother could return from postwar duty.

“The new trustee can’t hold back my income due September fifth if I sidestep meeting him, can he?”

But Myles proved both a good companion and a steady helpmate in her plan to conquer fear.

“Keep your imagination on leash. … Each time you allow fear to get you it will be more difficult to keep the next crack under control. You lived through the war when Ken was in the thick of the fighting, didn’t you?”

“While on the subject I will observe that I am a matrimonial prize; expert dishwasher, as a cook I have a few specialties, and note this, I have never acquired the newspaper-at-breakfast habit.”

Her appreciation for her marriage to Victor inspires an extended passage:

“If a couple goes into marriage knowing that adjustments are bound to be tough, that the going may be plenty rough in spots, yet, believing it to be the great adventure, that the rewards in companionship, in sunny stretches of road, in shared laughter, shared intimacies and interests will overbalance the hazards, such a marriage ought to result in a genuine till-death-do-us-part relationship and that is the only one I will settle for.”

You can almost feel the sigh as the fog lifts from Fran’s–and Emilie’s–spirit.

“I love life, but when I get up in the morning feeling so sour that I take the sunshine out of the day for everyone I meet I hope the good Lord will remove me from this earthly scene.”

The beautiful things in life remained as real, as enticing.

flower path
Zinnias in pastel shades of yellow, salmon and mauve towered; giant asters were bursting into bloom…


She seated herself at a table equipped with choice old Georgian silver, pale yellow china of paper-thin delicacy, and a tall frosted-glass pitcher and glasses.

“Hot, thank you. Somewhere I read that the hotter the day the hotter the tea should be for refreshment.”

“You dance like a dream,” he declared after they had circled the room. “Like it, don’t you?” “Love it. Always have. Always will.”

Dark times
She had lived through dark periods before.

“Always have. Always will.” Emilie Loring had lived through many challenges and a number of dark periods in her life, and her sunny philosophy always found a way through it.

I like the way she signed her personal copy of I Hear Adventure Calling when it was published:  “Emilie Loring. Her book. October 16, 1948.”

Her book. She signed a contract to write another.



Nothing so restful as a decision, it cleared the way for the next move.


13 thoughts on “I Hear Adventure Calling

  1. Cultural connection: I sat down and caught the last few of an Andy Griffith episode. Barney Fife started singing “Nita Juanita…” to his girlfriend. That’s the signal song in this EL book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just reread this one. A couple passages stood out to me for investigation.

    >”Another drift of gray malines swaying from a treetop. That wasn’t chimney smoke. Were the woods on fire? She thought of the tragic holocaust of the year before, […]”

    Searching for forest fires 1947 brought me to some articles about the Great Fires that devastated parts of Maine that fall and killed 16 people.

    >”There goes a shoot—” The windshield mirror reflected his grin. “Remembered the penalty that goes with the mention of a shooting star just in time, didn’t you, Miss Phillips?”

    From context, I thought the penalty would be a kiss. But the only likely info I found from a quick search is about bringing bad luck or even death.

    I never thought about looking up these references previously. Thanks for the inspiration to dig a little deeper!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good catch, on the fire! I grew up with the tradition that you got to make a wish on a falling star. It was definitely a good thing. At that passage, I thought there must be something extra for announcing the shooting star and that it must be a kiss. Maybe it gives your wish away to the other person, and Myles knew what his wish would be. Anyone else want to weigh in here?


  3. Believe it or not, I just saw a London Telegraph article about the sale of fraudulent paintings of Warhol and other modern art. The culprit was arrested. The lengths to which he went to pass off the fakes, including fake certificates, are amazing. Nothing new under the sun.😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just watched an episode of Murdoch Mysteries (Canadian tv show set in ~1900 Toronto, CA). The episode [S3, E6] had to do with a Rembrandt being stolen. Lo and behold, the Rembrandt turned out to be a fake. The forger was part of the scheme of producing and selling forgeries of the masters. The forger was not on a mission to set anything right, however, unlike in the EL novel. Sadly things did not go well for him.

    The plot turns a bit differently. I’ll let you find out!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a nice little show that’s hard to find. I like it a lot too. I like the inclusion of historical people and events, the technological progress. Netflix had it a couple years ago. I found it on Hulu this winter. These cold months are good for binge-watching. I have several seasons to go. Something to do while we all isolate as spring approaches!

        Liked by 1 person

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