Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Then Came November - the perils of changing yourself to fit

I was a voracious reader as a kid and teenager. And one of the books I loved when I was a young teen was "Then Came November," which had been out about ten years when I read it. I no longer have a copy of the book, but I understand it says "A Teen Novel" at the top of the spine, and I would have said books weren't being described that way, not back when it was first published in 1963.  I've also seen covers on e-Bay where the girl's hair is blonde, although then it looks like a crazy fur hat.

Dulcy isn't quite sure where she fits. But then she gets in with the in-crowd in her high school -- in crowd known for their “short skirts, bright clothes, charge accounts” -- and one the guys even drives a sports car. “For Dulcy there would never be another October like this one! She was riding high and no one, but no one could stop her ascent. ...Then came November.”

I loved that book and re-read it several times. One of Darcy's obsessions is that she does not have a coat with three-quarter length sleeves, which means she's not cool.  I remember a climatic scene where her mom helps her tailor an old coat to meet the new styles.

I remember not relating at all to her obsession - why would anyone want shorter sleeves on a winter coat?  But still, that longing to fit in resonated with me. When I was in sixth grade the girls would coordinate what they wore - everyone would wear a mini, a midi (am I the only one who remembers those?) or a maxi skirt.  And if you didn't have one, you were a loser. Once, I begged my mom to let me cut up the corduroy crazy quilt my great grandmother had made (the same quilt that now tops our bed) and let me make a maxi skirt out of it.  It seemed reasonable to me.

Luckily she said no.

Nan Gilbert was the author's pen name. Her real name was Mildred Gilbertson.  Feeling like you belong must have been something that personally resonated with her, because she wrote another book called The Unchosen, about three girls longing for love.



5 comments:

  1. This sounds like such a fun read...I just bought my winter coat last weekend. It's bright red! First red winter coat I've ever bought...

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  2. I swear, I was reading this post and thinking, "This sounds like a book I would like. Sounds like something Nan Gilbert would write." And then I read your last line!

    The Unchosen is one of my all-time favorite YA books. Nobody else seems to remember it! Now I will have to see if I can track down Then Came November.

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  3. I like going back and rereading books I loved as a kid and seeing if they still hold up. Some are out-of-date, but others still resonate and immediately pull me back to the person I was when I read them. My favorites--now, unfortunately out of print: Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer and Jane Emily by Patricia Clapp.

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  4. I had that same I can/can't relate feeling when reading all of my mom's old books as a kid. Too funny.

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  5. The Unchosen was in my classroom library and was one of the few books I never read. Then Came November sounds like something I would have loved!

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