Emilie Loring’s Washington, D.C. novels are on my mind this week, as I visit the nation’s capital. One year after its first publication, It’s a Great World! was syndicated in U.S. newspapers, complete with illustrations. They’re not how I imagine Jeff and Eve to look, but it’s fun to have pictures!
(If you haven’t read this one yet, find the Detroit Free Press for October 11, 1936. The entire book is published there in a single, Sunday supplement.)
“It’s a big country, isn’t it?”
“Very big, South America.”
“And frightfully lonesome?”
“I can’t bear to think of you down there alone. Take me.”
“Of course I can’t take you.”
“You could if we were married.”
“Married!” His eyes brimmed with laughter.
“Don’t laugh at me! M-a-r-r-i-e-d. That’s the way to spell it. You’ll find the word in the dictionary. It’s an old custom but it’s still being done.”
… “Look at me, Eve. Do you mean this to be a real marriage or am I to be shunted off as soon as you secure your money?”
Soft color stained her face.
“My goodness, I–I didn’t think of it that way, but if–if you think it should be a real marriage, all right. Ever known me to be a cheat, Mister Kilburn?”
… She wouldn’t know for a while that there would be but a few shreds of property, if any, to transfer. Would she blame him for not telling her the truth at once?
… “If you had seen Jeff’s face, heard his voice when Annie told him that Moya was unhurt–” She choked back a sob–“You wouldn’t go to South America with him or anywhere else.”… She paused on her way to the door. “Good-bye, Jeff, happy landings.”
“So you are a cheat, after all.”
Three months passed…
The broad deck was deserted. Passengers were settling their belongings in their cabins for the long voyage. A long voyage. Why hadn’t he gone by plane? Why had he allowed Jock Holden to make arrangements for him? That answer was easy. He had been too sick at heart about Eve to care how he went. It would be a perfect night. If only Eve were with him. He’d better sign off on that line of thought.
A uniformed boy touched his shoulder.
“Mr. Kilburn? Radio for you, sir.”
His throat tightened. Was it a message from Eve? He waited until the boy had vanished into a companionway before he opened it. He frowned down at the words;
“EVER SEE A MOVIE THE MAN WHO PLAYED GOD? “J. H.”
… “I couldn’t let you go alone, Jeff. I–I was afraid that a man-eating widow–
… He whispered incredulously: “Eve! Eve!”
“Are you sorry I’m here, Jeff? You’re white as a sheet. Have I crashed in on your life a second time and spoiled it?… I’ve scattered Eve–Eve Kilburn cheques all over New York.”
“Eve Kilburn.” He cleared his voice. “Nice name. Don’t be so breathless, darling.”
… “You’ve never told me that you love me, Jeff.”
He flung an arm around her shoulders and laughed.
“Haven’t I?” He drew her close. “You’re going to hear a lot about that on this trip, Mrs. Kilburn.”
12 thoughts on “It’s a Great World–Illustrated!”
Emilie attended fashion shows to keep her characters up-to-date. I wonder how closely the illustrators followed her descriptions.
That bridesmaid get-up looks like a pretty good depiction of her description. But Eve doesn’t look as young as she should. Skinner’s suit looks just right, hard-boiled, business-minded woman of her era. I think of Rosalind Russell in “His Girl Friday” perhaps as a model.
I also have wondered what movie actresses might fit some EL heroines? Young Kate Hepburn had the liveliness. Adventurous. She was great with a comeback. I can just see her waving the lantern like mad on the train tracks in “Trail of Conflict” or taking in the midnight ride to Nogi’s in “Gay Courage.” Is Dorothy Maguire too serene and quiet? Or Donna Reed too “nice”? Teresa Wright (Best Years of Our Lives) seems like a good fit in some cases?
I can’t picture any contemporary actresses in such roles…
Fun to think about.
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How about Irene Dunne? (See “My Favorite Wife”)
Oh yes! Irene Dunn is a good one. Claudette Colbert at all?
I love her, but maybe a little… hmmm… can’t quite find the adjective, but not as good a fit as Irene.
How about Julie Andrews or Jane Wyman? Maureen O’Hara?
Good choices. I LOVE Maureen O’Hara!
For men: Gable and Bogart have the look (from book cover paintings) and the stoicism. The Duke also? Cary Grant is too comical, I think. (But he and Hepburn were great together!) Myrna Loy and William Powell were the quintessential couple of the prosperous pre WW2 era films. They were comical sleuths but were in the social set EL’s books are set in.
You’re making me want to spend a weekend watching old movies! No to John Wayne. William Powell is good. How about Randolph Scott?
Oh, yes! I love old movies. I’d watch AMC (when that was THE classic movie channel) while doing econ equations on weekends in grad school. Maybe some EL books could be The Thin Man without all the drinking by Myrna Loy and William Powell. Randolph Scott maybe so…Brains thinking now of too many old movie actors/actresses!
These are very neat to see. Yes, the characters have “sharp” features. Not much warmth. The mouths are small and tightly drawn. It is neat to see the clothing styles.
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Oh my, the illustrations weren’t the ones in my head. LOL
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No! They are sharp-featured and not very appealing.