Pollyanna Grows Up

//by Eleanor H. Porter//published 1915//

815640I could be completely wrong, but I genuinely doubt that Porter had any idea that her little book about a girl who tries to be glad no matter circumstances would become a wildly popular classic.  But Pollyanna did just that, and, two years after she published the original, Porter produced a sequel for her young heroine.

Pollyanna Grows Up is a book of two halves.  In that respect, it rather reminded me of An Old-Fashioned Girlbecause the first half of the story is Pollyanna when she is younger, and then the second half of the book skips ahead six or seven years to Pollyanna around the age of 20.

The story picks up about two years after the end of Pollyanna.  Pollyanna is able to walk again and has returned home to live with Aunt Polly and Aunt Polly’s husband, Dr. Chilton.  However, her stay in Beldingsville doesn’t last long – Dr. Chilton and his wife have to go to Europe for some suitably vague reason, and Pollyanna goes to stay with acquaintances in Boston.  Mrs. Carew, much like Aunt Polly in the first book, is a woman in  need of some cheer in her life, and Pollyanna brings it with her usual unselfconscious manner.

In the second half the book, Aunt Polly has rather fallen on hard times, and Dr. Chilton has passed away.  Aunt Polly and Pollyanna return to Beldingsville under very reduced circumstances.  However, there are plenty of old friends to help the women through their hard times.  The second half of the book is much given to romance, but Pollyanna ends up with her Jimmy Bean, as we all knew she would.

While I really enjoyed Pollyanna Grows Up, it doesn’t seem to flow as well as the original book.  There are several points where coincidence is very strong, and several times when I found myself rather confused as to how this could be what the characters were thinking (Pollyanna is jealous of the friendship between Jimmy and Mrs. Carew, even though Mrs. Carew is like 20-25 years older than Jimmy??  It felt like a stretch).  It also rather felt like Aunt Polly got the short end of the stick – she finally married the  man she loved, only to have him die just a few years later.  Meanwhile, everyone else ends up happily married by the end of the book, with Dr. Chilton sacrificed for the sake of plot continuance.

The only other weird thing to me is that when Pollyanna returns to Vermont as an adult, Jimmy says he hasn’t seen her in years.  It seemed out of character that Pollyanna wouldn’t return to Beldingsville at all for five or six years, especially since she goes on about how much she loves it there and how dear all the people are to her.

Still, these are minor discrepancies, easily set aside.  Overall, Porter does an excellent job of transitioning Pollyanna to adulthood – while still upbeat and optimistic, Pollyanna is never obnoxious, and she always manages to come across as a realistic person, with struggles and difficulties like everyone else.

While I don’t love the sequel as much as the original, Pollyanna Grows Up is still an enjoyable read.

Spoiler, though – I just finished Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms, which is the third installment of the series, and it’s actually a book I’ve totally fallen in love with.