I have a not-really-secret fondness for outdated teen romance novels – the older and cheesier, the better. My most recent find, dredged up with the help of NoveList, is Wedding in the Family by Rosumand du Jardin. Since I’m pretty sure that you’ve never heard of her either, here’s a little background information from Contemporary Authors.
Although author Rosamond du Jardin wrote several novels for adults, she was best known for her novels for teenagers, all of which have gone through numerous printings. Critics consistently praised her ability to write about the teenage years with humor and understanding. Most of her books have been published in other countries, including Japan, Italy, Holland, and Sweden.
Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009. (accessed 08/24/15)
In addition to her teen fiction, she wrote short stories for women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan, Red Book, and Good Housekeeping, and contributed to a variety of radio serials. She attended public school in Chicago, married a bookstore owner, had three children, “played gold and bridge, bowled, and liked to read and hew.” (Well, that’s what Contemporary Authors says. I’m hoping there are some typos in there.)
Anyway, let’s explore the world of Rosamund Du Jardin. It’s a magical place where all skillets are copper-clad, all curtains are crisp and white, no one worries about skin cancer, and young people are full of spizzerinctum.
The book starts off with a bang, with the wedding of Midge’s sister Tobey. Here’s what happens when Midge is introduced to best man Johnnie Randall, a southern charmer who apparently doesn’t care that Midge is only fifteen, while he’s like, at least 23. Reading it just makes you feel icky (page 48).
Don’t worry too much – with the help of her wise older sister, Midge realizes that Johnnie isn’t the man for her (whew), Learns A Valuable Lesson, and Grows Up A Little.
The morning before the wedding, the bridal party sets out to decorate the soon-to-be newlyweds’ car. But they have to find it first, because newlywed-car-hiding is apparently a thing in Midge’s hometown. Good thing they have spizzerinctum (page 70) and hamburgers to keep them going. (And yes, they find the car.)
The wedding goes off perfectly (it’s super romantic, and we learn that All Good Boys Want To Get Married), but the book’s only half over. Fortunately, that’s just enough time to take a family vacation!
Midge and company set out for a month at the lake, where (surprise) Midge is confronted by two vastly different suitors. But after the aborted Johnnie Randall affair, has Midge finally learned her lesson about love?
Well, duh. Of course she has. This book was written in 1958, after all.
Overall, Wedding in the Family is an unintentionally amusing and fairly (but not painfully) monotonous read. If nothing else, it’s a great romp through the world of 1950s teenager cliches. You’ll see:
- double dates
- a soda fountain
- fashion and hairstyles galore
- repeated use of the word “golly”
- punches thrown in defense of a lady
- a lad with a lawn mowing business
- an utterance of the phrase “ever so much”
- a family vacation
- summer romance
- a distressing lack of telephones
- excessive tanning
- dishonestly bleached hair
- a midsummer dance
- and more!
Keep your ponytails high and bouncy,