Family Matters

Louise Platt Hauck has developed a surprisingly quick turn-around; after all, I only bought Family Matters and The Pink House in October and have read them both already. Usually books added to my shelves or TBR list languish for a long time waiting for the right moment. Somehow, though, older fiction seems to bypass this trend. The stories have no pretenses, no strings attached, not even a plot summary to read and think about for later. Instead they promise thick pages with a readable amount of text, not so short as to feel careless and not so long as to feel weighty. The kind of book that is easy to get lost in because it asks pleasantly, rather than demanding that you keep reading.

This edition is from Penn Publishing Company and the list in front divides Louise Platt Hauck’s books into two categories: Romances of Young Love and Problems of Married Life. Family Matters falls in the latter. It begins with warm, vivacious Julie Wentworth’s marriage to Ralph Harper. Julie is a little reluctant to leave her large, hospitable family behind–parents, brothers, and two grandmothers all beneath the same roof she was born under. Ralph, on the other hand, is occasionally overwhelmed by the Wentworths’ extroversion and is excited to have his own little home built in the new part of town. There the house will witness the birth of three Harper children (Wenny, Harriet, and Pudge), the joys of growing up, the trials of illness, death, and heartache, and most of all the the strong family bonds that are formed.

Julie herself admits at one point that she was cut out more for motherhood than marriage. She went through one wild fling in her youth, so that her marriage with Ralph is fond and sensible rather than passionate. Cooking, gardening, and housekeeping take her a while to learn, and even discipline is a struggle. Just as when she was younger, however, family is the most important element of her life. Julie is hopelessly and whole-heartedly devoted to raising her children. They are her pride and joy, the center of her world, and her maternal instinct extends beyond her own children. She is hit hard with empty nest syndrome when the story comes full circle and her own children are old enough to move out. Knowing her inner strength, however, she will find something else with which to fill her life.

I was surprised to find something other than the romance and giddy expectations of Louise Platt Hauck’s other books. Though the former may be my preference, this change of pace keeps it from becoming trite and adds a depth to my appreciation for her work. In some ways this realistic portrayals in this book reminded me of Joy Street, depicting the trials of everyday life. My only criticism is the relationship between Julie and her oldest son Wenny, whose devotion rivals hers. There is nothing wrong for a son to be openly affectionate with his mother, but from a young age Wenny fretted and fussed over her health, consoled her when she couldn’t sleep, eventually taking to calling her by her first name and occasionally carrying her around. It just seemed very unnatural to me; her interactions with her other two children were close and tender but in a normal way, with the expected stages of rebellion.

I like having “forgotten” authors who I can think of as my own. I know some of her books are available online, for anyone who is interested, and I hope to track down more hard copies as well.

Published in: on May 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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