The Crystal Tree

“‘They’re bound to be single peonies,’ she announced happily. ‘You can tell from the slender stalks that they are. The double ones are twice that size.’

‘I’ll swear they are!’ he said, though he didn’t know a peony shoot from asparagus.”

I really should stock up on more 1930s romances for when I’m in the mood, but I’m glad I reread The Crystal Tree by Louise Platt Hauck because I liked it much more this time around. I think I was in high school when I read it before. My biggest complaint is still the name of the main character.

When Quail Ashby sees the darling little house with a garden and white picket fence, she falls instantly in love with this replica of the childhood home she had to sell. Since she is unable to afford to rent alone, her new neighbor Mike suggests she advertise in the paper for housemates. Along came Len Worthing, with a farm girl past and opera star future; Whitey, a chaperon with zany health food ideas; and Mike’s friends Kent and Phil. Life at Hilarity House, as they dubbed it, went smoothly until Quail was forced to introduce pretty, invalid Mabel to the household, resulting in a series of trials and triangles.

There’s really not much I can say except that I find this type of happily-ever after book so refreshing, and even more so when there’s a whole flock of characters who get their lives neatly sorted out by the last page. And the descriptions of their glorious garden are enough to make me grab a watering can myself. My favorite part, however, is the glimpse into the past that the narrative offers, in passages such as this one:

“Quail removed her office dress, inspected the cuffs and decided reluctantly that they would not do for tomorrow, found fresh ones and began basting them in while she explained to Whitey that Dr. Barstow would attend to Mabel regularly.”

A far cry from today where ironing and dry cleaning are often enough to give pause.

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Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. […] Keyes, a Grace Livingston Hill, and, last but not least, two books by Louise Platt Hauck. I read The Crystal Tree earlier this year and had been curious about her other […]

  2. […] Tan is pretty much just as perfect as Peter. They are close siblings willing to drop everything for the other, as Tan does here. She is also beautiful, strong-willed enough to put Patricia in her place, and wise as Solomon. Of course, she also possesses two of my pet peeves in heroines: violet-blue eyes (Patricia has them too, and I don’t see them nearly as frequently in life as I do in books), and an unusual name. In this case, Jenkins explains that her father the duke named her after his favorite Tanagra figurines even though her mother hated to saddle her with the name. I interpret this as Jenkins thought it sounded cool but his wife vetoed it in real life. It’s only nominally better than “Quail.” […]


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