One of my favorite vintage romance plot lines I collect is, “small town girl moves to big city.” I prefer my novels to have a heroine who moves to a big city to pursue a career such as dancer, artist, or actress, but this is not always the case. Sometimes I simply have to “settle” for three heroines moving from a small town to a big city who all just happen to be on the same plane even though they are arriving from Oregon, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
This is the premise of Three Girls Lost by Robert D. Andrews, published in 1930 first as a serial in The Chicago Daily News and then in book form by Grosset and Dunlap as a “Sparkling Romance of the Modern Girl.” In addition to a spectacular 1930s storyline, this book has great Mach Tey cover art. Mach Tey did a bunch of Grosset and Dunlap dust jackets around this period, of which Three Girls Lost is one of my favorites. The scene of the three girls walking is taken from chapter two of the book, and translates excellently. I love how bright and bold the cover is, but I do not love that someone wrote on my copy in marker. I’d like to have words with whoever did that.
Anyway, so our story starts with the three girls on the plane and quickly moves on to the three of them living together in downtown Chicago. This book can be interpreted as “three girls come to the big city and find romance and adventure awaiting them” or as a 284 page novel about the trouble with roommates. Noreen appears to be the normal roommate, who quickly finds a steady job and has to deal with the other two’s shenanigans. Edna sneers a lot, is nasty, and actively seeks trouble. Marcia is compared to a small child, briefly fascinated with the newest and shiniest toy, with little concern for others.
The main action of the novel starts when the mob boss who is “very nice” to Marcia is mysteriously murdered. Marica lets her neighbor, actor Gordon Wales, take the fall. Noreen loves Gordon and sets about to prove his innocence. This leads her and Marica to a showdown with the mob boss’ wife, Ellie Parsons, who wishes to frame Noreen and Marica for something or other. Basically, this is only important for the hilarity factor, as Ellie Parsons does what no fictional villain should do: spends a lot of time boasting and revealing her plot. She even gets an exit line, “And remember nobody ever two-timed Ellie Parsons and got away with it,” before being promptly tackled by the police.
Edna is still brewing up trouble with a moustached foreign guy, so naturally she is stalked and kidnapped. Marcia is off at a fashionable club-hotel at this point. Noreen teams up with Gordon Wales to find her. Up until this point, Gordon has been rather doofy. However, for this part of the book he suddenly is ready for action, and violence. We know this because he has popped his collar and is wearing a slouch hat.
At the end of the story, Edna goes home to the country, as Chicago has defeated her. Noreen and Gordon awkwardly become a thing when after sitting in uncomfortable silence, Gordon puts his arm around her on a bus. Marcia carries on doing whatever exactly it is she does.
Up next: the sequel, One Girl Found.