Helen Beal Woodward

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 406

About the most exciting thing that happens to the Careys [in Rings Around Us] is that their son is born with a rudimentary tail and that their housekeeper, a follower of Father Divine, leaves the house in horror with the cry that the family is marked by sin. But to bear down heavily on a book as fluffy and as harmless and as easy-to-take as is "Rings Around Us" would be like using a shillelagh to spank a baby. Perhaps its failure lies in the fact that Mrs. Carey has only two children to her parents' twelve, or perhaps it is because a couple of generations have diluted the vinegary eccentricities of the elder Gilbreth into something as bland as Pablum.

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Helen Beal Woodward, "Suburban Living," in The Saturday Review (copyright © 1956 by Saturday Review; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Vol. XXXIX, No. 17, April 28, 1956, p. 27.

More about Nantucket and the Gilbreths, [Of Whales and Women] remembers island history as [Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.] recalls and retells many a story, some of them harking all the way back to the days of Indian settlement. Mostly though, they are what the title indicates—tales of whaling ships, the men who sailed them and the women who stayed at home…. Though told in a personalized idiom, such incidents as an encounter between South Sea belles and prim sea captains …, and the other women who took on mens' chores in their husbands' absences and brooked no nonsense from returning spouses—have a quality that characterizes a fierce yet genteel period. Good reading that has its reference value too.

"Non-Fiction: 'Of Whales and Women'," in Virginia Kirkus' Service, Vol. XXIV, No. 13, July 1, 1956, p. 463.

Gilbreth gambols again [in How to Be a Father]—this time with the expectant father…. Coach Gilbreth counsels uninitiated benedicts on the travail ahead—from the nurse who accompanies the new baby home, whose last infant charge had far more hair and parents with money, to the barrage of porringers and teething rings which can always be melted for their bullion content. He braces the father-to-be for the shattering experiences before him—when his wife murmurs that Celestine would be a nice name for a girl and for the unnerving first glimpse of his offspring…. His dissertation on the duel of the diaper is Rabelaisian. A pacifier for Pop—for an ascertainable market.

"Non-Fiction: 'How to Be a Father'," in Virginia Kirkus' Service, Vol. XXVI, No. 3, February 1, 1958, p. 105.

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