Men Forget

Written by Helen St. Bernard, Cover art by SkrendaThis past fall, I had a minor dilemma.  I had just placed an order with Babylon Revisited Rare Books when maybe about a day or two later, a new catalog was released.  My “problem” was that a really cool book I had been searching for was listed!  For more than a year, the few copies of Men Forget I had seen for sale were at best in questionable condition.  I quickly consulted with my mom about the book, who wrote back, “it IS needed but then CAN IT.”  This may have been the fastest rare book catalog purchase I have ever made.

And that is how I purchased my first romance novel with a doctor as the main character, without even realizing it.

Men Forget is one of my favorite book titles ever.  I always have found the dust jacket blurb amusing, and the Skrenda dust jacket art is striking.  My collection probably has a disproportionate amount of Skrenda ladies, but this one is a classic.  Helen St. Bernard wrote Men Forget , which was published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1932.  It had been published serially supposedly under the title Silver and Jade, but the Google news hit I found contained an installment under the title Men Forget in The Milwaukee Journal.

Just as Merry from The Petter is seen as being too “easy,” so Justine Emery is ridiculed for being the exact opposite.  The book kicks off with her gossipy friends nagging her to snag Hugh Copeland before Nance Adair returns to town, but little do they know that just the night before Justine a.k.a. Jade finally let Hugh kiss her.  But sure enough, Nance Adair returns to town that very evening, full of stories of her travels and her messy divorce.  Distracted by Nance, Hugh forgets all about Justine, hence the title Men Forget.

At this point, Justine decides to simply drive away from the situation rather than be the third wheel.  She drives to Vista Valley Farm in New Hampshire on a whim and meets a new cast of characters, mostly older women vacationing or recovering in a country setting.  She also meets Dr. Caleb Powell, country doctor.  In true form to melodramatic plot lines, Dr. Powell’s house burns to the ground (but his furniture is saved!) and Justine volunteers to become his temporary chauffeur, going on house calls with the country doctor.

Not too many remarkable things happen in this book:  Justine goes on house calls, Justine plays golf, Justine buys a house, Justine’s friends visit, etc.  At one point, Dr. Powell requires Justine to assist him at a birth, which immediately brought The Bell Jar to mind even though this birthing description was totally different and way less graphic.  Nance and Hugh visit, Hugh changes his mind, realizing “Jade” isn’t as cold as he originally thought.  Nance also has an actor friend, Waldon Carewe, who fulfills the creepy random short-lived suitor quota.

The book culminates with a double proposal, a change of heart, and a car accident.  Plot spoiler: Justine wasn’t driving, so women driver jokes don’t apply… this time.  The main characters all live happily ever after, and Justine accepts the Powell family heirloom furniture.

Babylon Revisited Rare BooksCopies of Helen St. Bernard’s works are available for purchase here including Men Forget.

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This entry was posted in 1930s, Grosset and Dunlap, Helen St. Bernard, Skrenda. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Men Forget

  1. Mike says:

    Sounds like a classic. I’ve been getting into the vintage mysteries but will have to try a romance, maybe it will be Men Forget. Thanks for the great post Jess!

  2. This man didn’t forget to read this blog post or leave a comment.

  3. Sheila Hooker says:

    Since most (all?) of us will never read this book, you must tell us all how it ends and what happened with the auto accident.

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