For All Your Life is a natural choice for the first day of fall.
There was an outsize gold-and-crimson maple leaf of weatherproof metal attached to the trunk of a gigantic oak. Its tip pointed east. TO THE MOUNTAIN, it directed.
“Motorists will begin to flock to see the foliage tomorrow. The different shapes and colors of these metal leaves are guides to locate the varieties. Crimson indicates sweet gum and red maple. Purple: mountain ash. Clear yellow: American beech and willow.”
Out of the blue, Anne Kendrick inherits a large estate in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I don’t usually connect Emilie Loring with New Hampshire, but she spent many summers in Amherst when she was a girl, and her brother summered there regularly.
Anne’s new estate, Mountain Lodge, is quite the place! The rambling, stone house has gardens, a tennis court, and a landing field, not to mention its own lake and trout stream. Its entertainment suite includes a ballroom (because everyone needs one of those), powder and coat rooms, and an inviting dining room. The game room is her least favorite, decorated with antlers and guns, but it is balanced by a marble entry hall with a floor-to-ceiling aquarium.
“I can’t wait to give a party to see lovely girls and women sweeping up and down these marble stairs.”
I’m not familiar with the White Mountains, so let me know if Mountain Lodge is based on a real place. It’s within a mile of a forested, granite mountain, close to an old mill town, and within sight of the Presidential Range, “far off on the horizon.”
Anne’s romantic interest is Griffith Trent, a congressman who secretly investigated her for two years. There are problems, of course. There is another claimant to the estate, funds–and a parrot–are missing, and Ned Crane, who jilted Griff’s sister, tries first to marry Anne and then the Trents’ seventeen-year-old niece.
Familiar components of Emilie Loring’s preceding novels are present in For All Your Life. There are vibrant descriptions:
Across the room a log fire leaped and blazed. It threw patterns on the light mahogany walls and set figures dancing in shadowy corners.
The walls were of varicolored marble, with many wavy streaks of soft pink which gave off a rosy light. An exquisitely wrought iron balustrade, black as the teakwood, at one side of broad marble stairs, mounted to the gallery.
There are unique descriptors–a “raffish” dark-green convertible and a dining table that becomes “the cynosure of many eyes.” I’m always grateful for these; they have expanded my vocabulary considerably.
A Lowestoft cup and saucer make an appearance, as do Cocker Spaniels named “Rough” and “Ready,” and a reprobate parrot called “Old Soc.” Anne’s father was an actor who gave sage advice:
“Anne, here’s a rule for all your life,” he had begun gravely. “When you have decided on a course of action, go to it. No matter if discouragement blocks the way, keep swinging. Each swing will inch you forward though it may seem to you that you haven’t moved. Then, before you know it, you will have achieved your goal.”
When a character is introduced, Emilie Loring provides an instant impression:
“The grim-faced man and woman are pushovers for the couple in the famous painting, ‘American Gothic.’ They are Amos and Harriet Dodge, butler and housekeeper respectively, who are fixtures here, a part of your bequest. Note the man’s batlike ears. When they twitch, look out!”
I love the combined assumptions and education about fashions in her novels. Clarissa Trent invites Anne to a club event and suggests,
“Not too formal. The same sort of thing you’d wear to the theater if you planned to dance later.”
Are you picturing an outfit? Here is Anne’s solution:
Her white chiffon frock with its deep V neckline and a silver lamé jacket were perfect for the occasion, and simple pearl earrings were a perfect accessory to the costume.
There is one fashion surprise when Anne appears in black velvet slacks and a long-sleeved, white Italian silk shirt. It’s chic, to be sure, but Emilie’s characters don’t often appear in slacks away from the beach. I credit her for moving with the times.
Loring novels have themes, and this one arose from a struggle between attraction and distrust.
She had met him four weeks before and had been fascinated by his charm and his apparent devotion to her. Then one morning she had been awakened by her own voice asking, “For all your life?”
Her characters have flaws, of course, but in the main, they are the kinds of people you would like to know.
Griff was reminded of Anne Kendrick, with her simple, uncalculated manners, her warm unstudied graciousness, her gaiety of spirit, the eyes that met his squarely and honestly. Anne was genuine and real.
It’s easy to identify with their earnestness:
“You know, Joe,” Anne went on, “since my arrival I’ve gone about in a daze, trying to realize what has happened to me. I must take hold of life with both hands and all my intelligence.”
Another reliable characteristic of an Emilie Loring novel is the inclusion of historical and autobiographical details. In For All Your Life, it comes when Joe Bennet signs up for the Marines.
“How do they feel about your enlistment in the Marines, Joe?”
“How do any parents feel? They wouldn’t have me not go, but I figure they have let-down moments. I’m their one and only … I’ll be back on leave. And there is a U.S. mail delivered at Parris Island. Keep me posted.”
Emilie Loring’s eldest grandchild, Victor Joseph Loring, enlisted with the Marines on January 15, 1951 and was sent to Parris Island for training. This date is important, because Joe’s enlistment appears on page 54 of my paperback copy, about one-third of the way through the book.
Emilie Loring’s previous book, To Love and to Honor, came out in November, 1950, when she was already at work on For All Your Life. She wrote to her fans in what became its dedication:
From North to South, from East to West they came: the letters you wrote me when To Love and to Honor was published. Wonderful letters, full of commendation, affection and good wishes. I would have liked to answer each one but it would have taken weeks, and you all asked for another story. I couldn’t do both, so I am dedicating For All Your Life to each one of you in appreciation of your generous and warm-hearted encouragement.
As it happened, she didn’t get to finish For All Your Life. Just ten pages beyond the reference to Joe Bennet’s enlistment, Chapter XII ends. This may be her last, contiguous text:
“Then, why,” Joe asked, bewildered, “did she come to you with that story?”
“That,” Griff told him firmly, “is what we have got to find out.”
Emilie Loring died on March 13, 1951. I really like knowing that she was still writing as late as January. She was ill a full year, but it wasn’t enough to stop her until the last weeks.
“I must take hold of life with both hands and all my intelligence.”
When Chapter XIII begins, there is a new author, Elinore Denniston, and she is no Emilie Loring. To be fair, she can’t have had much opportunity to read and know Emilie’s work before attempting to mimic it, but as I wrote last week, only Emilie Loring could write an Emilie Loring book. “No formula could produce these stories.”
But seriously, where were the editors? First came a flurry of “Anyhows:”
Anyhow, as she had told Joe Bennet, she could not cry on Cosgrove’s shoulder. p. 70
“Anyhow, I have been hearing a lot about you, Miss Kendrick.” p. 71
–anyhow, Anne walked home through the woods and someone followed her. p. 75
“Anyhow, Anne wouldn’t marry me–or anyone–on those conditions.” p. 76
“Anyhow, I want to know what Minna is really after.” p. 76
And Freshman-English sorts of errors:
“Or Dodge, who also heard that
was shakingout a gray silk dress before addingit to the toppling pile on her bed.
gotover him but she still hasn’t fully recovered from the hurt.
And, inexplicably, Denniston ignored facts established in the first part of the story.
Cosgrove, early in the story:
“I’ll let you in on a secret, Miss Kendrick. Trent was a great favorite with Mrs. Williams and she tried to make him promise to marry you… I was present when she made the proposition”
“Excuse me if I’ve put my foot in it. I took for granted Griffith Trent was the man Mrs. Williams intended you to marry… “
“Where did you hear about that?” Anne asked.
“I don’t remember. It seems to be a general rumor.”
I think of how carefully Emilie crafted her stories, of her assertion that she never left a page until she made it as good as it could be. But now she had a ghostwriter, and Elinore Denniston’s errors, awkwardness, attitudes, and tone would now be attributed to Emilie Loring.
Why must there be such people to dim the radiance of the world?
Next day it seemed to Anne that nothing could dim the radiance of the world. Glorious was the word for that day. The sky was an inverted bowl of lapis lazuli.
“I’m the career gal who only a few weeks ago was going to do big things in television. Remember? And now all I hear is a little voice saying a woman’s best career is marriage.”
Anne smiled in the dark. Men never knew very much about women.
The bruise, as the maid had said, was all the colors of the rainbow and not one of them was becoming to him.
Griff looked down at her. “What’s wrong, Sober-face?”
“Thinking about Joe and the war.”
“Forget it for now.”
Emilie’s trademark russet and gold chrysanthemums even lost their color:
With bowls of massed autumn flowers on the table, desk and mantel, the room was warm and bright.
For All Your Life begins so well. By the end, it’s just winter.
It’s not fun to pick apart someone’s work and find fault. But this book marks a turning point in Emilie Loring’s reputation and legacy. None of the books after To Love and to Honor is fully hers, and yet her name is on them all, and it is her reputation, not her ghostwriters’, that bears the burden.
There are enjoyable stories among the twenty ghostwritten “Emilie Loring” books, some that I like very much. There are portions of Emilie’s writing to be found within them. But the real Emilie Loring is best found in the thirty books she wrote herself.
What’s the “up” side here? For me, it’s the conviction that Emilie Loring really was that good. Her character, personality, and history made her stories uniquely hers, and years of dedication to her craft allowed her to write books that we could love for all our lives.
“Now I am faring forth on a vacation. When I return, just watch my yellow pencils smoke.”
17 thoughts on ““For All Your Life” Begins So Well”
Whoops! I mean “To Love and To Honor.” YIkes!
I finished this book earlier in the week. I can see it is a transition point from EL to the “ghosts.” The quality of the characters changes. Anne becomes less plucky and more timid, the direct target of the bad guys (which is the case in most “ghosties” as I call ’em). (In the EL originals, the heroine gets into danger through her curiosity, desire to solve a mystery, or impulsiveness, not necessarily b/c the baddies explicitly are after her.). Anne and Griff are less companionable, there is no more banter or back and forth, and Anne becomes despondent in a weak depressing manner, about a future with Griff. It becomes a very serious tragic thing, this love,
Why would Cosgrove know the communists were such, but Crane did not? Crane seemed to be in much deeper than Cosgrove.
I will write about “To Have and To Hold,” which I finished today. I enjoyed that one much better because of the differences in originals v ghosties as described above.
Read “Forsaking All Others” a few days ago. Yes, there were some “anyhows”
in this book but I got a chuckle out of all the liquor stores mentioned when
Jennifer and the good doctor were arriving in Desserts Springs! (pages 58& 59)
I guess folks drink a lot near the edge of the Mojave Desert! I will stick to tea!
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I’ll have to look for that! I have a vague memory that the Princess Josephine collection has a friend-of-Emilie connection–another thing to check before that post.
Maybe we could have a friendly competition of who can find the most
“anyhows” in a ghost written book? Alas, Fed Ex closed all their retail
office supply stores in August We Canadians have to rely on other
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Great fun! Have you seen yet–are there a bunch in Forsaking All Others? Start counting!
I have just finished reading “Follow Your Heart” and indeed I was
amazed at all the “anyhows” in this book! There were too many
“darns” and “dangs” that were definitely not our Emilie! I just
received “Forsaking All Others” today and dare hope it is crafted
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Good luck. Once noticed, the differences stand out like the arrow on the FedEx logo! (You have them in Canada, too, I think?) I did like “Forsaking All Others” better than some of the late ones, partly, I think, because of my Arizona and California background.
You have exactly described my opinion of the ghost writer and her repetitive use of the comment “She muttered.” that I mentioned a while back. But in the case of For All Your Life I was so caught up in the story plot I never noticed or else skimmed over the other repetitive words the ghost writer used. Sometimes I do like to read from the last 20 books because they ‘go’ faster since there isn’t nearly as much descriptive phrasing as Emilie used. But then I miss the detailed images those descriptive phrases paint in my mind when I read from the first 30 books. They put me literally ‘on location’. I have been to New Hampshire and the White Mountains but only as a ‘drive thru’. I never associated For All Your Life with that place. I always assumed the story happened in Maine. When I first started reading the books as a teenager I got a world map and taped it to my bedroom wall. Then I stuck a pin in the location I thought each book represented.
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I always assumed Maine, also, but the Presidential Range changed my mind. You were quite the Emilie reader as a teen! I love the idea of your map. Sounds like a good post topic!
It is definitely different to read a book with a writer’s eye. I don’t remember all the anyhows, but when I reread it one day (and I will!), I’ll probably notice these things. Yes, an editor should have done a better job. BTW, I’ve always loved the name Griffith. Thanks, Patti!
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I didn’t pay such close attention until I needed to for her biography. I knew I didn’t like the later books as well, but I couldn’t have told you exactly why.
I keep the ghostwriters separated from Emilie on the shelf as it has always perturbed me they were pretending to be her. 😏
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I know what you mean! But parts of the books are Emilie’s short stories and novelettes, cobbled together with new prose. I’ve worked hard to learn what was hers–and I think we can judge that pretty well sometimes, too.
Thank you for your quality newsletters about Emilie Loring. I too have been disappointed with the ghostwriter of her books. I hope you will continue sending these out to us. I look forward to your own book publishing.
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Thank you, Cherrie. The ghostwritten books have their merits and their fans, but my first concern is Emilie Loring and her legacy. I hope to rehabilitate her reputation by distinguishing between her and those who copied her later.