Lenora Mattingly Weber Ellen Lewis Buell - Essay

Ellen Lewis Buell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Malones [in "Meet the Malones"] are certainly worth meeting. They are individuals in their own right, but you will see in them something of the family next door or down the street, for these four motherless youngsters and their companionable father are very much alive and of this day. And of our time and our country is their unspoken knowledge that democracy really begins at home, around the family council table….

When Martie Malone [the father] went off to Hawaii he left his household running fairly smoothly….

Nonna [the glamorous, efficient step-grandmother] fixed everything beautifully—at first—and the Malones reveled in ease and comfort. But somehow the old, generous, helpful way of life was managed out of existence, the debts and plans were half forgotten, until the arrival of three small refugees made them realize painfully that you can't have things for nothing, that independence and integrity are dearly bought but worth the price.

As the Malones sift their values of living, older girls will find their family crises full of humor and revealing bits of characterization; and if the story occasionally verges on the sentimental, this is more than offset by the tonic tone of the whole.

Ellen Lewis Buell, "Family Crises," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1943 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), October 17, 1943, p. 8.