THE PORTYGEE by Joseph Crosby Lincoln

[I came upon a list of One Hundred Best Sellers of the Last One Hundred Years, so because I am down to my last 3,000 books on my TBR list, it was only natural that I go see what they were.  Understand, these are not necessarily the BEST books of each year, but the BEST SELLERS of each year.  Well, dang if a bunch didn’t seem like possibilities, so I snagged some, and you will be thrilled to know that these early years, from 1918 are most of them on Project Gutenberg FOR FREE!  I do so love free.  Oh, yeah.  If you would like to take a look at that list for yourself, it is here.]

Written in 1920, and set in a fictional Cape Cod, the story is about a former sea captain, now head of a thriving lumber and hardware business on Cape Cod, and his long suffering wife, whose only child, a daughter, ran off and married a Spanish opera singer, very handsome, and very famous.  Their first child  of the young couple died, and the daughter died at the birth of their second, a son.

The sea captain disowned the daughter, when she ran off, but the mother got him to agree to her visiting them without the son-in-law, but she would not come without her husband.  When she died, the opera singer hired nurses, and when old enough, had the boy enrolled in a very good boarding school in New York State.

When the boy was 17, his father was killed in an auto accident.  It turned out he left the boy nothing but debts, and a friend arranged for the kid to go live with his grandparents, whom he had never seen, on Cape Cod.  His grandfather insisted on referring to him and his father as ‘the Portygee (Portuguese), a group who were abundant in the area at the time.  In fact, he called all foreigners of any nationality portygees.  The boy was arrogant, and as expected, he and the old man butted heads while he grew up, grew in love a couple of times, because a poet, writer, and war hero in WWI in France.  A satisfying coming-of-age tale, set in the age we now think of as ‘simpler’.  I have come to believe that very few ages were actually ‘simpler’, just different.  Without indoor plumbing.

Nothing new in the plot to be agog and atwitter about, but a fine read nevertheless.  Of course it was,  that’s why it made the best seller list for that year.  I enjoyed myself immensely, seeing as how I didn’t have to tax my brain all that much on it.  Sometimes, that’s all we ask out of our entertainment … entertainment.

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