Patricia Brent, Spinster – Herbert Jenkins (1918)

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Published in 1918 by his own publishing company, Herbert Jenkins’s novel, Patricia Brent, Spinster, was a pretty fast read once it got going. It’s a plot that’s been well used before: an unmarried young woman (about early 20’s) lives in a boarding house with the usual cast of misanthropes and narrow-minded “paying guests” having to eat a rotating menu that never changes (similar to many of their own lives, it seems). Small talk and gossip rule the day, and so young Patricia Brent decides that she can’t take the monotony any more and invents a fiancé for herself.

As the story continues, Brent leaves the boarding house for dinner with her “fiancé” at a well known restaurant in London without having the faintest idea of how this will turn out in the end. Fortune smiles on her, and she meets a young army officer who, serendipitously, is also dining alone and willing to play along with her plan. Days and weeks go by and the fake fiancé really ends up falling in love with her, except she decides that she can’t have someone actually fall in love with her and rejects him, despite all his intentions otherwise.

His family become involved, his sister comes up with a strategy to make Patricia become more attracted to her brother (the fiancé) and so it goes. It was an ok read, but Patricia was pretty unreasonable in how she acts with the friendly fake fiancé and rejects him for little reason apart from he likes her (which wasn’t in the plan).

It’s a caper novel, which worked for the most part, although at times, I rolled my eyes at the female protagonist’s immature behavior. However, this was written back in 1918 and it’s pretty true to the times for some people (regardless of gender), I would think. Author Jenkins also owned the publishing company who first started to publish all the P. G. Wodehouse spoofs so I don’t think this volume was intended to be deep and meaningful.

It was not a bad read, by any means, but it was somewhat more superficial than I had thought it was going to be.

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