Happy Leap Day, everyone! Since I feel a book about a leap year should be read on a leap year, I could either have read Leap Year Bride now or not have had another chance until 2016. Published in 1932, this book is only twenty years old, if we pretend it was published on February 29th. So here it is, Leap Year Bride by Laura Lou Brookman.
The “plot” of this novel starts with a leap year tradition of “leap year proposal” wherein a woman asks a man to marry her and if he loves her, he can’t refuse. Cherry asks Dan to marry her and they immediately elope. Cherry, our protagonist, is a wealthy society girl who is more or less disowned when she elopes with Dan, a newspaper reporter. This story revolves around their first six months or so of marriage.
This story also revolves around Cherry’s sense of fashion and how it (d)evolves over the course of her marrying a man without means. After her elopement, she buys a new outfit and then has buyer’s remorse. Her dresses get ruined from house-cleaning and she is often seen by former acquaintances wearing last season’s outfits. She wears a panama hat well into September, but then finally learns to sew, and thus becomes cool again. Unfortunately, she starts this journey in an unfortunate sounding monochromatic beige outfit. And oddly enough, I think Cherry and I may have an outfit in common: an entirely white tennis frock (from the 1930s!) “with tiny sleeves and a full skirt.”
Returning to the “plot” of this story, Cherry learns to cook and clean, while Dan is a big jerk about it all. He doesn’t appreciate her work, or acknowledge Cherry’s continual isolation from the outside world. Even in the “happy” ending, this is never quite resolved.
Dan writes stories for a newspaper but aspires to write the next great American novel. He goes about this task by cheating on Cherry with a classic romance novel villainess: alluring to men, manipulative, and ugly in daylight. This creates a tangible problem for our main characters to work out and fix hastily in about the last twenty-five pages of the book.
The other quick-fix shady character is Max, Dan’s somewhat sketchy friend. Dan tells Cherry, “Max doesn’t care much for most girls. Never goes around with them.” I read this one way, and then the story went another. Who knew Max would go for Cherry after that introduction? Max inappropriately hits on Cherry, so a formulaic plot device offers Max a job which he accepts in the book’s final chapter.
So Happy Leap Day, and don’t do anything rash such as storm out of your parents’ mansion to marry a newspaper reporter.