I resurrected another oldie but goodie when I chose to read Belvedere by Gwen Davenport! Having enjoyed the movie based on the book, I decided to see what the original story line was. Oddly enough, the book is quite different from the movie entitled Sitting Pretty in many ways. I am always amazed at the plot changes made by screenwriters in Hollywood.
Set during the end of World War II, a mother of three unable to find suitable household help turns to the want ads in search of a writer offering room and board in exchange for a helping hand with the housework and the children. Much to her surprise, the “woman” named Lynn Belvedere, hired sight unseen via written correspondence turns out to be a man who identifies himself as a genius.
If you have seen the movie, you will notice the not so subtle differences in it and the original novel. In fact, I enjoyed the book much more than the movie because it presents an eye-opening look inside the daily life of a suburban U.S. family during the mid-1940’s. Rationing and victory gardens are parts of daily life as are cocktail parties and adherence to social mores long since discarded. One thing in particular stood out to me, the mother in the novels reaction to the dropping of the atomic bomb in Japan. Reading her thoughts, I wondered how many people at the time felt the same way.
If you can locate a copy of this book published in 1947, please read it. I think women will especially appreciate it as much of it deals with Tacey, a sculptor and college graduate, and her struggle to validate her existence and lack of fulfillment. I think it is a question women today continue to struggle with.