Jean Kerr Helen Beal Woodward - Essay

Helen Beal Woodward

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Suburban] housewifery is the stock in trade of a dozen lesser writers, but Jean Kerr gives it a wry, stylish touch of her own [in "Please Don't Eat The Daisies"]….

The attitude of prosperous young parents toward their progeny seems to be to some extent a matter of fashion…. Maybe our general insecurity as parents is the nervous reflex that explodes into laughter at Jean Kerr's tough comment: "We are being very careful with our children. They'll never have to pay a psychiatrist twenty-five dollars an hour to find out why we rejected them. We'll tell them why we rejected them. Because they're impossible, that's why."

Toughness, in short, is back in fashion, but it is a fake toughness with a butterscotch center and we have no doubt that when Johnny plays the character lead in the nursery school production of "Frosty, the Snowman," wearing a costume his mother made from a sheet ("by giving up lunch, I whipped the whole thing up in less than a month"), the Kerrs will be there, two on the aisle, leading the applause.

Helen Beal Woodward, "At Home in Westchester," in The Saturday Review, New York (copyright © 1957 by Saturday Review; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Vol. XL, No. 48, November 30, 1957, p. 25.