Mary Stolz Ellen Lewis Buell - Essay

Ellen Lewis Buell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Perhaps it is because we have come to expect so much from Mary Stolz—more than we get from almost any other writer for older girls—that her first collection of short stories ["The Beautiful Friend and Other Stories"] is a little disappointing. The compact form does not allow for the gradual unfolding of personality, the intricate development of situations, the colorful secondary characters and the detailed backgrounds which are the hallmarks of her novels. In comparison to those novels certain of the short stories seem a little slick, too quickly resolved, as in "The Robin" in which a young matron frees herself from a subtly domineering older sister.

This is not to say, however, that Mrs. Stolz cannot tell a good deal in a short space about situations in which many girls find themselves and of immediate interest to others. The title story, with its unexpected ending is an adroit reassurance to not-so-beautiful girls about beauty and the beholder…. Both "A Very Continental Weekend" and "The Turning Point" (the best of them all) deal with girls who are trying to wrench a little privacy and independence for themselves from over-protective, possessive parents. These are sharp, compassionate and sensible and ought to be required reading for all doting parents. (p. 28)

Ellen Lewis Buell, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1960 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 13, 1960.