[A note from Patrick:] There will be times during the course of rolling out the list of 150 best Minnesota books that I will admit to knowing just enough to know I am ignorant. This is one of them. Maud Hart Lovelace absolutely deserves a place on this list but I’m not qualified to choose the title or write about Maud. Fortunately we have enlisted the aid of a guest blogger to do the honors. Betsy Sundquist introduced herself to readers of this blog in comments under the first posting if your want to check out her credentials. Take it away Betsy…
Maud Hart Lovelace. Betsy-Tacy. New York: Crowell, 1940.
Maud Hart Lovelace. Emily of Deep Valley. New York: Crowell, 1950.
Maud Hart Lovelace wrote a series of books set in Mankato, the fictional Deep Valley, about Betsy Ray, Tacy Kelly and their friends, but I – and many other Lovelace fans – believe her best work is Emily of Deep Valley. Although some of the Betsy-Tacy characters make appearances in the book, it’s a stand-alone story about a girl very unlike Betsy: Emily is a loner, shy and not really part of her high school crowd. Throughout the course of the book she realizes she’s unhappy, determines to quit feeling sorry for herself and learns to “muster her wits,” which helps lead to one of the most satisfying conclusions in Lovelace’s books. I’ve discovered that a number of girls who have read the books in the past – and who continue to read them today – have identified more closely with Emily than with the popular Betsy Ray and her crowd. Although the 10 specific Betsy-Tacy books weave a wonderful story about Minnesota girls growing into women at the turn of the 19th century, I believe that Emily has an important message, delivered in a convincing (and not preachy) manner.
Betsy Sundquist, guest blogger