Jean Stafford: Boston Adventure

The latest addition to my website is Jean Stafford‘s Boston Adventure. Jean Stafford had a strong reputation when this book was released in 1944 but her reputation seems to have faded (this book is currently out of print, though easily obtainable). The book tells the story of Sonia Marburg, twelve years old when the book starts, daughter of poor immigrants to the US (he, Hermann, German, she, Shura, Russian) who live in (the fictitious) small town of Chichester, across the bay from Boston. Shura has mental health issues and is not happy with her lot. Hermann is not happy, either, having hoped to make his fortune in the US. Shura works as a chambermaid in a hotel mainly catering for summer visitors from Boston but is often substituted by Sonia when she is unwell. There Sonia meets a rich Bostonian, Miss Pride, who takes an interest in her and when , firstly, Hermann runs away, and then Shura is committed to an asylum, Miss Pride takes Sonia in as her trainee secretary. Stafford mocks the Boston patrician society, seen primarily through Sonia’s eyes. Sonia herself feels trapped and more or less Miss Pride’s plaything but cannot find a way out. Though a bit dated, it is a book still worth reading.

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