Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms

//by Harriet Lummis Smith//published 1924//

potobOkay, so I just spent like five minutes trying to find out more information about the Glad Series as a whole, and how they went from Eleanor Porter to having several other people writing sequels, but came up pretty much empty.  Anyone else know??

All I know is that the third book in the Pollyanna series is written, not by the original author – Eleanor H. Porter – but by Harriet Lummis Smith.  And while I really enjoyed Porter’s books, I actually found Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms to be my favorite so far.

We begin with Jimmy and Pollyanna’s wedding and go from there, through the first year or so of their married life.  They move to Boston so Jimmy can begin his new engineering career, and Pollyanna settles into homemaking joyously.  I had read this book before, but had been several years – this is the first time I’ve read this book since I got married, and I actually found myself in sympathy with Pollyanna several times as she tried to figure out the strange mystery of her much-loved husband!

Jimmy and Pollyanna are a delightful couple.  While by no means perfect, they sincerely work together as a team to make their marriage work.  Jimmy works six-and-a-half days a week (and calls it normal), and Pollyanna, despite living in town, does her own canning and sewing.  They are happy, industrious, and productive.  They make friends, have little adventures, and Pollyanna continues to live by her central theme of finding silver linings to every cloud.

It felt as though her tendency towards constant gladness could get old or annoying as Pollyanna grew into adulthood, but Smith transitions our heroine well.  While Pollyanna doesn’t talk about her “game” as much, she lives it, which is very effective preaching.

I absolutely love the relationship between these two, and love the way that they grow from that early ecstatic love to the calmer-but-still-passionate enduring kind of love that is built on friendship, camaraderie, and the complete confidence that you are on the same team.

Actually, Pollyanna has a bit of an epiphany in that regards – Jimmy accidentally does something that completely messes up Pollyanna’s careful household planning, and she is understandably upset.  As Jimmy is trying to explain his perspective –

Pollyanna suddenly realized that Jimmy was pleading his cause as if she had been a judge, and he the prisoner at the bar.  And with that realization came the knowledge that this was no way to face the situation.  The problem was not hers, complicated by his blunder, but a partnership affair.

When Pollyanna is able to recognize and accept that the best way to tackle their problem is not by blaming – even justified – Jimmy, but by standing shoulder to shoulder and working through the problem together.  This kind of teamwork is echoed throughout the story, as both of them learn the importance of letting go of personal petty hurts for the good of the team.

Much of Pollyanna’s character is seen through the eyes of her new neighbor and friend, Judith.  Judith is a new bride as well, but comes to her housekeeping with a completely different attitude.  It is so interesting to me how Smith handles the differences in the two marriages, skillfully showing how two couples, similar in age, location, background, and financial situation, are completely different because of their attitudes.  Jimmy tells Pollyanna regularly that she is what makes it easy to be a patient husband, and that if he was married to someone like Judith! Well!  And Pollyanna says the same of Jimmy.  Judith, who eventually hears about Pollyanna’s Glad Game, is slow to make changes, but does have a bit of an epiphany one day –

She realized that Pollyanna’s sunny cheerfulness was not due to her having an easier time than other people, but because she had made a life-long habit of looking for the cheerful side of the most unpromising situations. …  she realized more and more that drudgery is not dependent on the amount of work to be done, but is altogether concerned with the spirit.

Judith’s growth is a wonderful little side story.

In the second half of the book or so, the States enters World War I, and Jimmy goes off to be a soldier.  And here occurred the one thing about this story that really, really irritated me…  Pollyanna doesn’t tell Jimmy that she’s going to have a baby because she doesn’t want it to impact his choice/make him more hesitant to go to war.  Women not telling their men that they’re having that man’s baby REALLY gets on my nerves.  Pollyanna’s pregnancy absolutely should impact Jimmy’s decision and deserves to know that she is having his baby.  For a book that emphasizes the teamwork in marriage all throughout, the message falls flat when it comes to the baby – it is Pollyanna’s baby and Pollyanna’s decision about when/if the father should know.  Gah.

However, that is a very minor complaint.  Overall, I absolutely loved this book and found it completely delightful.  While it would make more sense to read it if you’ve read the first two books, I also think that it could pretty comfortably stand on its own.  I definitely recommend Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms.