Happy Birthday, Emilie Loring! Make a Wish!

Emilie Loring didn’t celebrate her birthdays, but that didn’t mean she denied herself an annual birthday wish.

“I make myself a present on a book’s birthday to square never celebrating my own.” 

Beckoning Trails

As she figuratively blew out the candle on a book’s birthday cake, what did she wish for? Emilie loved books, of course, but I don’t see her wishing for one, unless it were a special edition. Her characters give us a hint of where her imagination might go with candles alight before her.

“That smitten salesman of yours at Tiffany’s told me before I left New York that he was on the trail of the Alexandrite ring you’d been wanting. It belonged to one of the late royalties. He says that it is a wonder, beautifully set and only two thousand dollars! You’d better write him about it. Of course he can’t hold it indefinitely.”

Evidently Peg didn’t know the terms of Nicholas Fairfax’s will or she wouldn’t have been surprised at her lack of enthusiasm about the Alexandrite. Two thousand dollars! It seemed a more stupendous sum than twenty thousand would have seemed to her a year ago. 

The Trail of Conflict

Alexandrites’ charm is their changing color: green in sunlight, red in lamplight (or today, in incandescent light). They are also more expensive than diamonds.

Tiffany’s in New York cornered the market on Alexandrites and stoked desire for the rare gems. We’ve seen Emilie at Tiffany’s before. Remember Beth Gilbert’s yellow diamond? (See it in An Elusive Legacy: My Dearest Love)

Maine’s gemstone, tourmaline, can sometimes change colors like Alexandrite. Discovered in 1821, one year after Maine became a state and also one year after Stone House was built, its usual shades range from emerald green to a deep watermelon pink. Emilie used both in Uncharted Seas.

cosmos, all mother-of-pearl or tourmaline pink

the green of emeralds and tourmalines

Uncharted Seas

None of Emilie’s characters yearns for tourmalines, though. Instead, they wish for the more intense green of emeralds.

“Won’t that design make a huge ring?”
“I like them splashy, or not at all.”

With pincers she laid a large emerald in the center of a ring design on white paper, placed small diamonds.  She indicated spaces. “I want studding baguette diamonds there and there and a platinum setting.  When I’ve made my fortune on the farm, I’ll make this ring for myself.”

Hilltops Clear

Emilie loved fashion, and her characters sometimes wish for a special piece.

Janice watched the bargaining without a quickening of her pulses, only to stop with an ecstatic “Oh!” before the window of a Japanese shop in which was seductively draped a sumptuous mandarin coat of turquoise blue, lavishly embroidered with iris which ran the gamut of shades from pale orchid to deep amethyst. 

Lighted Windows

There was a flame-color frock in the shop window… It was net, glistening with opaline sequins, a honey of a dress…

When Hearts Are Light Again

If not jewelry or fashion, Emilie Loring might have wished for another silver box for her birthday. She and her characters collected them–the more beautifully ornate, the better. Faith Jarvis (Across the Years) says that she used birthday money to buy some of hers, and since Emilie had so many, maybe that was one of the gifts she gave herself on the birthday of a book.

“…forty silver boxes, some of them bought with your birthday money…” Across the Years

Harder to wrap but still a wish of Emilie’s was modern, interior design. Emilie thought a lot about design, and just as she insisted on her fashion being up-to-date, she wanted her surroundings to express modern design, too.

“Modern” meant art deco for most of Emilie’s writing career, the perfect style for a woman who appreciated glamour, luxury, and rich color. On her wish list was a gleaming, mauve and silver powder room. Jean Randolph is surprised with one in Swift Water. It is so much the opposite of what we imagine inside the author’s rugged Stone House.

Jewels, fashion, interior design… These are presents, after all, not the work of life.

“Did you travel up from the Cape with a wardrobe trunk concealed about your person?”

“‘The feel of Paris.’ Like them?”

“The clothes? Mad about them.”

She was conscious of a guilty accession of color. “These are not clothes. The frock and hat are a mammoth coffee tricolater. The electric ice-cream freezer–plus a few much needed kitchen utensils–completes the ensemble.” His laugh brought her eyes to his.

“And it was only a short time ago you were wondering if you would forget how to spend money!”

“Ladies must dress. Then you are not shocked?”

“Shocked! My dear girl, I am inexpressibly relieved to find you so human. I had begun to fear that you were all saint and sacrifice.”

Fair Tomorrow

That’s a nice reminder in difficult times. It’s okay to be human and indulge a little wish now and then.

Happy birthday, Emilie Loring, and Happy Landings, everyone!


8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Emilie Loring! Make a Wish!

  1. I enjoy very much reading your posts. I found my first EL book in a used book store, and it inspired me to try to find more. I haven’t been able to find any others, in hard or soft cover, for over 20 years. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me please. I recall reading one book that took place in Washington,DC, I think. It was about a new plane, which description made me think of our Stealth Bomber. This book had nothing to “date” it; until I read the passage, “She could hear the clip-clop of the milkman’s horse’s hooves against the cobblestones.” I would like to re-read that book, so I am wondering if you know which one it is? Thank you in advance for your help. Mildred Harrison

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mildred. The book you are looking for is “It’s a Great World!” which does take place in Washington, D.C. The quote is: “From somewhere near came the ‘clap-clap’ of a horse’s hoofs on macadam as a lonely milkman made his rounds.”

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  2. Happy Birthday! I remember assembling my collection of Emilie Loring books as a teen and college student. I eventually preferred used book stores for the price–as well as variety. The name brand stores only sold “name brand” contemporary books–new. It’s amazing I caught some on re-release in the 1980s.

    I like nice clothes too. I had to develop a business wardrobe after years as a student. I had to get comfortable spending money for appropriate clothing. Now, for years I’ve been a stay home mom, occasionally consulting. I have a single decent suit for interviews. I have bought a couple work appropriate dresses. But with the covid work from home no hurry, though my mind thinks of some decent shoes etc I should have. I can relate to the Fair Tomorrow excerpt!

    Happy Landings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve begun to treat myself to better clothing for “at home.” I don’t don a gown for dinner, but I do feel better when I dress nicely for the day–in my case, like a cute outfit for summer camp. 🙂

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