Our serial story, “The Best is Yet to Be,” came at a turning point in Emilie Loring’s writing career.
As Josephine Story, she had published twenty-plus articles on efficient homemaking, and her first book, For the Comfort of the Family: A Vacation Experiment added no-fuss cooking to her repertoire. She might well have become a home economist instead of a novelist.
But while Josephine Story wrote to enlighten homemakers, Emilie Baker Loring wrote to entertain them. Her first serial story, “The Key to Many Doors,” appeared in 1915, and there was something about that sort of writing that hit home for her. The Lorings had a long tradition of public service, but entertainment was the Baker way of life, and a familiar, creative excitement coursed through her veins.
“That setting-up exercise of the imagination is magical in its effect.”Emilie Loring
Summers spent in Maine and winter seasons in New York inspired her new story’s settings. Her friends would have recognized the Owen sisters’ tea house (on Emilie’s land, not Mr. Gilman’s) as well as references to Blue Hill, Stone House, and Blue Hill Bay.
The Madison Avenue house in New York belonged to a friend, and even “Babs”/Barbara Gilman was modeled on another friend’s daughter Barbara. None of that would be picked up by her readers, though.
“I’ve been doing some village visiting and each family suggested a story.”from Give Me One Summer, another Blue Hill story
Emilie finished the story on October 30, 1915, with a different title: “Hope Damon Takes a Chance.” After several submissions and rejections, she lengthened the manuscript to 36,000 words and sent it out again with its final title, “The Best is Yet to Be.”
When she wrote the story, Europe was yet at peace. In the year between acceptance and publication, that changed.
The country places had closed one by one, earlier this year than usual because of the troubled times. Men wished to be near the city, and the women, sobered by the distress everywhere, went with them.“The Best is Yet to Be”
When the first installment of “The Best is Yet to Be” appeared in February 1917, Emilie’s sons were at Harvard, and the elder, Robert, had just been named the starting pitcher on the baseball team.
Halfway through publication, April 6, 1917, the United States declared war. Robert Loring ended his baseball career, received a “War Degree,” and entered training camp. By summer, Emilie’s younger son, Selden, stepped onto a steamer headed for France, destined to carry ammunition to the front of fronts in ten campaigns.
“There are times when the horrors I have seen and been part of get an octopus grip on my mind.”Beyond the Sound of Guns
During the Civil War, Emilie’s father, George Melville Baker, wrote light-hearted, humorous plays. Two of his children died, Boston burned, his firm went bankrupt–but still, his plays provided “moments of respite, inspiration to summon courage, and humor to lighten the load.”
Emilie’s third serial, “An Elusive Legacy,” followed her father’s lead. “A gripping story of love and mystery,” it opened on horseback with a broken engagement and led through murder and impersonation to love… The characters were real, their problems believable, and their settings were so attractive that the reader was transported out of the world of war and into a better place for a while.Happy Landings: The Life Behind Emilie Loring’s Stories
Josephine Story retired, and Emilie Loring took over. Five years later, her sixth serial story became her first, full-length novel, The Trail of Conflict. “The Best is Yet to Be” remained “on hand.”
Let’s get back to the story and see what’s in the letter that Hope’s about to receive…