Betty Cavanna Alberta Eiseman - Essay

Alberta Eiseman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Betty Cavanna is a fine storyteller, and as such she can always carry you along from page to page, asking no questions as to consistency or motivation until after you have finished the book. Many of her very popular novels for young people are satisfactory on all counts. But after the last page of "Stars in Her Eyes" is turned, many questions remain unanswered….

[Magda Page, pudgy 14-year-old daughter of a famous television personality,] takes her first steps toward independence by working as a waitress during her vacation, then persuades her parents to let her spend ten months in Paris, studying singing and ballet as well as attending a French school. When she returns home, slim and poised, she is truly ready to embark upon her new career, and mature enough to be grateful for her father's help.

Why does Maggie decide to go to Paris? On page 163 the idea is mentioned for the first time, "dredged out of her subconscious." On page 167, without further discussion, her parents have agreed, and she's off. And why does Scoop, the knowledgeable young TV script writer, exclaim "aha! The independent type!" twice during the space of a few pages, both times to Maggie? There is much of validity in the book, but it seems to have been written hurriedly, without much regard for details. (p. 50)

Alberta Eiseman, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1958 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), October 26, 1958.