Maureen Daly J. G. E. Hopkins - Essay

J. G. E. Hopkins

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

If [Miss Daly] continues to read life with her present honesty and an increasing depth, she will be an important writer…. (p. 88)

The narrative of ["Seventeenth Summer"] is extremely slight; it rises to no great climaxes of action; the curve of its progress is emotional rather than dramatic. The author has, however, a native sense of form which rounds out and includes all the wealth of observation and sensibility which gives distinction to her story. The reader senses the same effect of a job done as well as it could possibly be done that one finds in such a novelist as Jane Austen; a complete success on a scale deliberately limited. Miss Daly knows adolescents; normal, healthy, fairly imaginative American boys and girls. These she gives us, and makes no attempt to soar, to uplift, to probe, or to exaggerate. For this reason alone, her book would have succeeded. And yet, more than this, her novel has reality in the true sense of a vastly abused word. It is the reality, not of nightmare and Krafft-Ebing and melodrama, as most American novelists and critics seem to define the word, but the reality of a middle-class Wisconsin home, much like thousands of other American homes where life is placid and thoughtful and kind….

The writing is excellent, although there are infrequent times where some forcing for effect may be noticed. "Seventeenth Summer" is filled with those infinite shadings of feeling which the mind forgets as it matures and sharpens; the quick response to natural things, to weathers and to intuitions, the inexplicable sadnesses, sudden joys and all-embracing pities. (p. 89)

J. G. E. Hopkins, "Books of the Week: 'Seventeenth Summer'," in Commonweal (copyright © 1942 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. XXXVI, No. 4, May 15, 1942, pp. 88-9.