This is my copy of The Good Bad Girl, by Winifred Van Duzer. It’s a 1926 first edition, and was given as a Christmas present to “Borghild” on December 25, 1926. There is even a 1926 Merry Christmas stamp pasted onto the free endpaper.
I found my copy of The Good Bad Girl in Ithaca, New York. This was my very first antiquarian book purchase, made in late February 2010. I remember being offended when the book shop owner condescendingly told me that the dust jacket on this book was very rare. The impression I got is that he thought I was young, and therefore dumb enough to stuff the dust jacket down the garbage disposal or something. At least he sold me the book.
So far I have only found three books by Winifred Van Duzer, and only have one. She also wrote Our Dancing Daughters and Golden Roads, which was the only published novel of Van Duzer’s not to be adapted into or from a movie. The Good Bad Girl follows the basic plotline of “a small town girl moves to the big city and gains life experience,” which is the plotline of approximately one-third of the romance novels from this decade. The story is told in the third person, except for random lapses into second person narration, which generally last for a few paragraphs before the third person narrations resumes.
The naming conventions in The Good Bad Girl are awesomely terrible. Our protagonist’s name is Mimsi Marsh, which just may be the Best. Protagonist. Name. Ever. She has a roommate named Trixie True, a dog named Luck, and comes from a small town named Tranquility. Mimsi associates Tranquility with brass knockers.
This book is a masterpiece of nuance and subtlety. All the women characters who aren’t married either are brutally murdered, die of a drug overdose, or are tramps begging at the shadiest bar in town. We are told that they were “toast of the town one day; a crust of Tenth Avenue the next.” Basically the moral of the story is that marriage is the only way for a woman to survive past thirty. As I said, the subtlety is astounding.
This book also seriously creeped me out. We know which love interest is the good guy because he has “Daddy’s eyes…” Um, okay. Also, she stalks his sister’s family. As in, every night Mimsi drives out to his sister’s house, parks her car, and watches the Hart house for hours.
The Good Bad Girl also features plot devices that are resolved in twenty pages, make no sense, or occasionally both. At one point Mimsi is blackmailed for ten thousand dollars by a character from page five of the book. What is he blackmailing her for? Good question. He’s basically blackmailing her for existing, hinting that he knows “all about her,” information which every other character in the book also possesses. At this point, the dog is so over this plot device, and throws the guy out of Mimsi’s apartment.
Oh, and the reason she delays marrying the guy who proposes on page fifty-seven is because she believes him to be already engaged to a rich woman. This misconception fuels the next two hundred pages of “plot” and is dismissed in about half a sentence. We know this to be the truth because the photograph of “Miss Duer” has fallen over and is now half concealed by papers. Absolutely no explanation whatsoever is given as to why the photograph was there in the first place. The love interest simply calls Mimsi “you darn, lovely baby” and the book ends a page later.