Six Days

Six Days by Elinor GlynI have decided:  a literary blog that aims to celebrate 1920s and early 1930s romance novels simply must cover Elinor Glyn.  To neglect Elinor Glyn would be criminal.  I plan to remedy this blog’s lack of Glyn with Six Days, first published in 1923.

Before I can delve into this book, first I feel obligated to explain the awesomeness that is Elinor Glyn as she is incredibly important to 1920s popular culture.  Elinor Glyn was popular, prolific, influential, and perhaps most importantly, scandalous.  Several of her books were made into silent movies with actors such as Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, and Clara Bow.  She was the sort of writer I imagine others aspired to be, and what I consider to be the epitome of a romance writer.

Moving on to Six Days, my popular reprint copy and I first met at Kaleidoscope Books, in the twentieth century general fiction case.  Jeff, who owns Kaleidoscope, handed me two books he thought I might like.  I only handed one back.  I instantly knew that Six Days was for me.  Maybe it was that the lead male on the cover sort of looks like Ivor Novello, maybe it was the two small gold hearts that grace the spine of this book, but it was definitely the plot summary along with the handwritten note on the free end paper promising text “scandalous in its day” that implored me to read this book.

Elinor Glyn is simply a fabulous writer.  She drew me in quickly with fun and refreshing text, as well as a heroine who liked cats.  The dialogue is great, the plot moves along quickly, and it is easy to become invested in the characters.  What is lacking here is discretion in the selection of plot devices.  Simply put, Ms. Glyn threw everything at the wall to see what would stick.  This book could very easily be several books as it changes settings and situations so often, all of which I will attempt to cover briefly.

The romance on a boat:  The steamer romance!  This is what drew me in, resulting in an irrational desire to read a 1920s romance novel that takes place exclusively on a boat.

The romance abroad:  Attending an Ambassador’s Ball at the French Embassy is very promising in the world of jazz age romance novels.  There is much gallivanting and fun.  What a great read!

Two characters confined to an enclosed space:  This is where the novel lost me.  To say that “the plot started caving in like the dug-out which entombed our protagonists” would be horribly cliché, but I think I may have just said it.  The priest on the front cover of the book quickly dies within that enclosed space, thus satisfying this novel’s quota for violence and death.  After that follows several chapters of the main characters slowly dying from starvation to the point of hallucination and insanity.  What, that doesn’t sound like a breezy or light romance to you?  Who wouldn’t want to read about that extensively?

The misplaced letter and consequential misunderstanding:  I wish I was making this up.  Followed by…

The secret government mission:  “Carry the Message to Garcia.”

The whoopsie baby:  Is this book over soon?

And then, there is the end.  Our heroine is about to marry the hero’s best friend to salvage the potential scandal of the whoopsie baby.  The hero races across Europe to stop the wedding just in time, arriving on a horse.  For all those who have wondered how long the interrupted wedding cliché has been in play, just know that it was well in use by the mid-1920s.

Despite my disappointment with the section of this novel which takes place beneath ground well as well as its subsequent events, I overall vastly enjoyed this book and would recommend it in a heartbeat.  I’d also happily read any other novel by Elinor Glyn, and hope to add a few more of her titles to my collection at some point in the abstract future.

Copies of Elinor Glyn’s works are available for purchase here including Six Days.

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14 Responses to Six Days

  1. Graham Hukill says:

    First of all, a huge fan of steam engines and steamers, so it sounds like this book already had my vote. But underground horseback riding as well? Well, sign me up. Good post, feel like I read it.

  2. Mom says:

    Hi Jess,
    The English major in me loves the English major in you. I feel like I get to hear all about the books via these posts AND I so enjoy your slicing/dicing/dissection of the literature. ALL of this makes me want to be a permanent literary fly on the wall, far above Cayuga’s Waters, living in Risley of course, and not as Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, my favorite mucho messed up “insect” – either. Can my room be in the tower? And can it be the 1920’s please?
    Not crazy, just missing literature as art, and the “simple” life, tonight.
    Love Your Mom, the One and Only

  3. sheila hooker says:

    I’ve never read anything by this author, and I wonder if her style and plot lines are very out of date.

  4. Hi Sheila, I think it is safe to assume that most everything on this blog is either obscure, out of date, or both. The interesting part isn’t determining if a book is outdated, but rather HOW it is outdated. What ages the book, what still translates to a modern audience? For example, are the characters using slang from another era? Is there fashion commentary? Is there a greater commentary on contemporary society?

    Other things I like to look for are common themes or devices used within a specific era of a specific genre. For example, I have a small collection of romance novels published during the Depression Era concerning a heroine who feels she must choose between love or money. Hopefully one of those will be featured on this blog soon, before the summer ends. Another personal favorite is the plot of the small town girl who goes to the big city to become a _________ (fill in the blank).

  5. Cal in California says:

    This one sounds like a wild ride. I’m curious… what were some of the names of the characters? I frequently find them amusing.

    • The hero and heroine of Six Days are David Lamont and Laline Lester. However, I think the film based on this book had different character names. My favorite heroine name is still Mimsi Marsh.

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  7. Oliver Patrick says:

    Hey,

    I’m really glad I’ve discovered your blog, I’m also a twenty-something just starting to get into fiction from the 20s & 30s and I’m quite enjoying some of Elinor Glyns novels. I’m currently reading “Glorious Flames” which I recently purchased from Babylon Rare Books (check out the dustjacket art, its awesome) and is what chiefly drew me to buying the book.

    Its actually not a bad story, a mystery/romance set in the 30s and a nice change from some of her earlier Edwardian work. Also the femme fatale character in the novel Natasha Muraska (what a name!) is brilliant!

    I’m really liking Babylon Rare bookstore though…what a fantastic website, their is so much I want! I ordered from them last week “Sooner or Later” by Elinor Glyn & an anonymous risque 20s novel entitled Surrender which again has really attractive dustjacket art, can’t wait for them to arrive.

    Wish we had something similar over here in the UK…okay I’m going to stop rambling!

    Keep up the good work,

    Oliver
    UK

    • Thanks! I’m glad you like the blog. 🙂

      • Oliver Patrick says:

        Your welcome! 🙂

        Out of curiosity what are you reading at the moment? I’m about to start ‘Diamond Cut Paste’ by Egerton and Agnes Castle, I have an 1909 1st edition of the novel unfortunately with no dustjacket….such a shame that a lot of Edwardian novel dustjackets haven’t survived!

  8. Right now I’m reading The Petter by Beatrice Burton. It may be a while before I write on it, but Beatrice Burton is one of the main authors I collect.

  9. Oliver Patrick says:

    I have never heard of Beatrice Burton but just done a quick check and she sounds like a pretty fun read! Might try one of hers in the future any recommendations?

    Have you ever read any Katharine Brush novels? I’m definately thinking of purchasing one of her books from Babylon Revisited Rarebooks. She wrote “Red-Headed Woman” and I’ve seen the old 30s film version with Jean Harlow which is very good and very shocking for its time! She also wrote a book called “Young Man of Manhattan” which is listed on BRRBs as being a “Flapper & Cads” novel and this is the book I think I’m going to buy.

    I wish I had loads of money though……their are so many books I want!! lol

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