Posts Tagged ‘Lasso Your Heart’

Lasso Your Heart by Betty Cavanna ~ 1952. This edition: The Westminster Press, 1952. 184 pages.lasso your heart betty cavanna

My rating: 5/10.

This one just squeaks onto the keeper shelf and therefore gets a “pass”, and I’ve made generous allowances for the genre and time of writing. The Kirkus review says it, too. Merely “adequate.”

*****

Kirkus Review, October 1952

A wholesome young love and how-to-be-natural-with-people-instead-of-just-horses-and-dogs novel, by a popular teen-age fiction author – about a young Texas girl and her adjustment problems with rich Philadelphia relatives. Sixteen year old Prue Foster and her family have moved to rural Pennsylvania where her father is managing a cattle fattening ranch. In Bryn Mawr live the Rowntrees, Mrs. Foster’s socialite family, and Prue is invited to her cousin Cissy’s debut. Her misgivings intelligently reasoned away, Prue enjoys herself with a young journalism aspirant Colin, until news is received of Cissy’s brother-in-law’s death in Europe. Mr. and Mrs. Rowntree fly to their elder daughter’s aid and Cissy goes out to the ranch with Prue where she falls in love with Mac, a Texas A. & M. student summering with the Fosters as a ranch hand. Prue averts a would be tragic elopement by enlightening Mac as to the evils of running away from temporary disapproval. So Cissy wins Mac the honorable way and Prue looks forward to a nice winter with Colin who will study at Penn. Adequate.

This is one of prolific “teen fiction” writer Betty Cavanna’s earlier books, and it is an exceedingly stereotypical “young romance” novel, though it is not at all a bad book – no groans of despair were emitted by this reader during the reading, which says something.

An interesting scenario in some ways, with the main character, Prudence – Prue – coming from a ranching family who has recently relocated from Texas to Pennsylvania. I appreciated that Prue’s father was not a ranch owner himself, but merely an employee of a large Texas holding. There is a complete acceptance by the author that agriculture was a more than respectable occupation for both Mr. Foster and the young “cowboy” love interest, Mac – much is made of the fact that they are well-educated professionals much respected in their fields – Mr. Foster is writing scientific articles for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Yearbook, and Mac is in his final years of study at Ag school (Texas A. & M. University), which is treated with as much respect as Harvard might be. I really liked those touches, and awarded an extra star for them. (Being an old aggie of sorts myself, from one of the venerable Albertan “cow schools.”)

Otherwise this is mostly just a typical 1950s’ teen romance, with the sweet, naïve, wholesome country girl falling in love with the cute city guy with the convertible, and wondering if he could ever be interested in her, and being oh-so-flushed-and-confused when it becomes apparent that yes, young love is in full delicious bloom. But though Prue and Colin are involved in a gentle teenage courtship (does he really read poetry to her under the trees by the brook? – I’m so jealous!) the situation between Prue’s cousin Cissy and the older Mac hints at something much more emotionally mature and physically passionate.

There is also a situation involving Cissy’s older sister Lea, living in Amsterdam with her pilot husband, Stewart. Stewart’s death in a flying accident on the evening of Cissy’s debutante ball injects a sombre overtone into what is otherwise a light and airy story, and the grief this brings to the families involved is handled well by the author, though she takes care to keep most of that aspect well off stage; Cissy is staying with Prue so Lea can go through the first months of her widowhood in private seclusion back at her childhood home without the fuss of Cissy’s busy social life trespassing on her mourning period. I thought this was an atypical scenario to include in a teen book of this period, and it definitely added another dimension to the story, beyond stereotypical “fluff.”

Betty Cavanna knows her horses, too, and includes a sweet interlude with Prue’s mare giving birth to an adorable foal; there is also the de rigueur “caught in wire” scenario with the young heroine single-handedly rescuing the entangled horse and being praised for her good sense and bravery etcetera etcetera etcetera.

The readers of the period liked this stuff just fine; the old library copy of Lasso Your Heart I’ve acquired (no idea where – it’s been around for years and I cannot remember where I got it, though I’m guessing it was cheap or even free, due to its decrepit condition) is literally falling to pieces, and has been repaired by conscientious librarian a few times – tape overlapping on tape!

I’m getting rather interested in this author in a low-key way, and will be on the lookout for more by her. She has surprised me a bit, in a good way, in each of her three books I’ve read over the past few weeks. I spent some time browsing her titles on ABE, and was quite surprised to see that some are in short supply and are indeed very high-priced; she’s been deemed as “collectible”, apparently, so my interest is not exclusive.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about Betty Cavanna in the future.

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