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The Blythe Girls: Rose's Great Problem; or,…
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The Blythe Girls: Rose's Great Problem; or, Face to Face With a Crisis (1925)

by Laura Lee Hope

Other authors: Thelma Gooch (Illustrator)

Series: Blythe Girls (3)

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The Blythe sisters - motherly artist Helen (at the ripe old age of eighteen!), practical private secretary Margy, and fun-loving shop-girl Rose (the baby, at sixteen) - continue to expand both professionally and personally in this third story devoted to their adventures in 1920s New York City. Rose, whose eponymous 'great problem' consists of an unexpected offer of a better-paid position in Buffalo, NY, almost four hundred miles away from home, struggles to decide whether to follow this promising job opportunity or stay close to her beloved sisters. She must also contend with an unexpected breach in her friendship with Birdie North, who refuses to speak to her after Rose is befriended by the new floorwalker, Chester Drew. Margy, in the meantime, discovers from her reporter friend, Dale Elton, that her eccentric employer's nephew, the playboy socialite Rex Pepper, has designs on his aunt's fortune, and is plotting to have her declared insane. Determined to shield Miss Pepper from harm, Margy draws the malevolent attention of that young man to herself. Helen too must face drama and uncertainty, as her good friend Hugh Draper is critically injured in a car accident, and threatened with life-long disability. As she works on a new, and far more emotionally meaningful painting, Helen must also face the prospect that this young man, for whom she clearly has deep feelings, might never walk again...

Although just as enjoyable as its two predecessors, when it comes to the period details, and the depiction of life in a bygone New York, Rose's Great Problem did have some rather off-putting elements, particularly as it concerns the issue of disability, raised after Hugh's accident. Helen's reflection that nothing could be worse than being a 'cripple,' that death itself would be preferable to being "half a man," felt conspicuously outdated, and left a sour taste in my mouth. Naturally, as is so often the case in stories such as these, there is a miraculous cure, and Hugh is walking again by the end of the story, but this outcome, although expected, is robbed of some of its happiness by occurring almost at the end of the tale, where it is included in almost an anti-climactic fashion, as just one of many loose plot-ends to be tied up. Another such tying up occurs with the character of Birdie North, a character who debuted in the first book, and is finally rewarded for her consistent virtue with the ultimate prize: matrimony! Readers of vintage fiction for girls will have seen that plot development coming from a mile off. Despite these and other criticisms, which are not entirely unexpected in children's fiction of a certain age, I did enjoy reading Rose's Great Problem. Recommended to those who enjoy vintage girls' fare, or who are interested in stories of girls making their own way in the big city. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Oct 19, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laura Lee Hopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gooch, ThelmaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Rose loses the friendship of Birdie North when Chester Drew, the new floorwalker, becomes friendly with her. Rose senses that something significant happened between Chester and Birdie in the past, but Birdie snubs Rose so thoroughly that Rose is unable to learn the truth.
Rose soon faces a great dilemma after Chester inherits a department store in Buffalo and requests that Rose move to Buffalo to take a top position at his store. Rose is torn between the opportunity and her love for her sisters. Unexpectedly, Rose learns the truth about Chester and Birdie's past, and Rose's decision is finally made clear.
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