B.F.’s Daughter is old at 70

I suspect the reason B.F.’s Daughter made the bestseller list in 1946 had more to do with post-war malaise than with John P. Marquand’s writing, good as it is.

Though its story seems out-of-date, the novel is still good reading.


 

B.F.’s Daughter by John P. Marquand

Little, Brown, 1946. 439 p. 1946 bestseller #9. My grade: B.


After her wealthy industrialist father dies, Polly Brett goes to Washington where her husband is churning out war propaganda.

She and Tom quarrel.

He goes off, ostensibly to take refuge in his work.

Polly has no trouble meeting men who are also alone in Washington. Although Polly sees a certain attraction in an affair, she backs away.

Then Polly runs into a long-time acquaintance who tells her “nothing matters that happened before the war.”

When Polly learns Tom has a mistress, she begins to feel perhaps her pre-war marriage doesn’t matter.

The characters in this novel are well-drawn, complex people. Contemporary readers may find them old-fashioned—imagine not having sex just out of a sense of personal integrity!—but they are none the less believable individuals.

Today the idea that one simply walks away from an unhappy marriage is taken as a truism rather than an epiphany.

That’s not a criticism of B.F.’s Daughter, but of our culture.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

6 thoughts on “B.F.’s Daughter is old at 70”

    1. If you look in the left hand column of the blog, you’ll see that what you have done by reblogging my post without my permission is a violation of copyright. Please take the post down, and learn not to do that again. Linda Aragoni

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did delete the post. Apologising again for overlooking something so obvious. I really like your style of writing.
        As I am still learning how to use WordPress, there are a number of details that I still need to pay attention to. Thank you pointing it out to me. A lesson well learnt.
        Eliza

        Like

      2. Yes, there is a definite learning curve for WordPress. You write well; that’s half the battle.

        The teacher in me can’t help pointing out that this is not just a WordPress detail. Open any book and you’ll probably see on the back of the title page a notice about not using material from the book without prior permission unless it’s a short passage in a review. In the U.S. using copyrighted material is literally “a federal offense,” that is, a violation of United States law. If you’re going to blog, you want to learn to use others’ work without getting into trouble. Usually a quoted line or two followed by a link to the full blog post is safe. In fact, if you’d just posted your comment followed by a link to my blog post, you’d have been just fine.
        Best regards,
        Linda

        Like

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