Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Purple Parasol by George Barr McCutcheon

The Purple Parasol by George Barr McCutcheon
The Purple Parasol by George Barr McCutcheon, published by A. L. Burt, 1907, Reprint with the Harrison Fisher illustrations.

When an elderly millionaire marries an elegant young woman about town, scandal erupts when she falls for a fashionable play actor. She tells her husband she is going to the mountains for a rest, and it's the straw that breaks the old man's back when he discovers that the lover is heading for the heights as well. Samuel W. Rossiter, Jr., promising young lawyer, is sent to the Adirondacks to get the "evidence" on the wayward lady. Trouble is, he has never laid eyes on the woman or her lover, but the description he is given relies heavily on the fact that she carries a purple parasol. The resulting comic chase is as charming as it is antic.

George Barr McCutcheon (1866 - 1928) was an imaginative writer and considered a member of the Golden Age of Indiana literature, joining the ranks of leading Hoosier authors including Lew Wallace, Booth Tarkington, James Whitcomb Riley and Theodore Dreiser. McCutcheon invented a country in Europe he called Graustark and he wrote several popular novels set in this enchanting realm. The Graustark novels and his other works led to his identification as a romantic writer, but McCutcheon preferred to be thought of as a playwright. His best known novel, Brewster's Millions, has repeatedly been made into movies.

Although The Purple Parasol is an old-fashioned novel, it is fast paced and the writing stands the test of time. Stepping back into a world where telegraphs are the swiftest means of communication and a train to the mountains is the elegant getaway (for a month!) of the well-to-do, the story is refreshing in its simplicity, has a good plot and a fun twist before the romantic end. The novel is short; there is a second story in this volume called The Flyers. The copy available for sale at Greenberry House is handsomely bound and is illustrated with color plates by Harrison Fisher, who was a well-known artist and involved in the discovery of Clara Bow, the "It-Girl."

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