I’m not really sure why it took me so long to purchase and read No Such Girl by Vida Hurst. It’s perfect really, the complete epitome of what I collect. It was published in 1932, is one of Grosset and Dunlap’s “Sparkling Romances of the Modern Girl,” and best of all, features a “love or money” plot set in the Depression. Also, the cover art is great and I love the protagonist’s outfit, especially the hat.
After spending way too long thinking about it, I finally ordered this book from Babylon Revisited Rare Books. Of course, I must say good things about Babylon Revisited. They are the only bookstore I know of that specializes in 1920s and 1930s romance fiction. Oftentimes, when I’m searching for a specific book or author, I find that Babylon Revisited is the only seller with the book and dust jacket in collectible condition. There’s also something to be said for their professionalism and great service.
Anyway, so I finally obtained my copy of No Such Girl by Vida Hurst. It was then I discovered something totally awesome that wasn’t in the description: this book takes place in Detroit! A majority of these 1925-1935 romances take place in NYC, so there was something refreshing about a Midwestern setting. Michigan may not be my favorite state, but there is something exciting in reading about one’s home area. The stuffy characters no one likes are from Bloomfield Hills, which is worth a good laugh. The protagonist lies about getting a job at Hudson’s. Hudson’s! I vaguely remember Hudson’s! In a few years, people will be saying that about Border’s (too soon).
I could also relate to the main character, Sylvia Parker, in two very important ways. First of all, she is slob who leaves everything lying about. And secondly, she doesn’t love “the university in Ann Arbor.” She feels out of sorts there, and chooses to leave, a decision which I have notably not made. Right, moving along…
So the novel starts off with Sylvia’s return to Detroit, where she reads an article about a local millionaire and his description of an ideal girl. Naturally, she decides this girl is her. Not having any career ambition, she decides to snag this middle-aged millionaire, obtaining the millionaire’s phone number from a family friend. The millionaire, or “stuffed shirt,” tolerates what by all means sounds like a prank call remarkably well. He and Sylvia meet, he calls her “Little Girl” a bunch, blah, blah, blah. Upon liking the way the “stuffed shirt’s” expensive car cushions feel upon her butt, she confirms her initial inclinations towards wanting to marry wealth.
We then get into the grating and uncomfortable parts of this book. The heroine does a bunch of stuff to make the reader feel awkward just reading it, and is told, “you aren’t half as cute as you think you are.” The plot involves some beau-switching… with her older sister. Margaret Parker is the practical one, and ends up with the stuffed shirt three days before his and Sylvia’s wedding. Margaret takes Sylvia’s honeymoon, millionaire, and interior decorating plans.
Sylvia then tries to obtain employment in Depression-Era Detroit. The (un)employment problem described in this book sounds awfully familiar to me. She eventually obtains a job in a “racket,” which she reports not to the police but rather a journalist. Anyway, so things get bad but then the family friend breaks off his engagement with another woman to marry the heroine. He was not considered a suitable option beforehand due to his lists of twenty-five girlfriends in the beginning of the novel.
The novel closes with Sylvia as a content housewife. She’s still a slob, but she and her husband are slobs together! There’s also a very minor “twist” at the denouement, but I’d be surprised if any readers were ever actually surprised by it.
Copies of Vida Hurst’s works are available for purchase here.