In 1907 the author Carolyn Wells wrote Marjorie’s Vacation, in which a high-spirited girl rides a train and summers at her grandmother’s well-appointed country house. The book was part of a Marjorie series, and though I don’t know who loved them in 1907, I know at least one edition passed seven decades’ worth of readers before it got to me.
In 1976 Marjorie and her pals Molly and Stella mesmerized me with their summer tale, and I read and re-read it by flashlight until it was torn and nearly spineless. I took Marjorie with me as a clothbound lucky charm, faithful to the red book despite teen boys, a ratty college apartment, young married life and finally, our new old house – she arrived in moving box #28.
My plan was to keep the book safe enough for my some-day Josie’s some-day shelf, and that’s where Marjorie lives today, still well-loved, mostly by flashlight.
Nothing much happens in Marjorie. She finds kittens, presses wildflowers, and – this is key – falls off a roof and sprains her ankle. Laid up by her own foolishness, Marjorie must spend a month in bed. A month? Years later I would think, my god – slap an Ace bandage on that girl and move it along!
While she heals, wacky Uncle Steve-from-the-city brings Marjorie a stack of ladies’ magazines and a blank journal so that she may spend her days in freshly ironed pink pyjamas, making house-scenes in her book.
I’ll bet you six glue sticks Carolyn Wells never dreamed she’d inspire a pony-tailed 70′s girl to do the same, much less her thoroughly modern daughter – but here we are, one hundred and one years after Marjorie took her vacation, still cutting and pasting the only house book we’ll ever need.
You rock, Carolyn Wells, and your curly-headed Marjorie does, too. Thanks!