Posted in 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, Books, Historical fiction

General thoughts on the Betsy-Tacy series, Part II

Books and Beyond: Literary Dream Tour, Part 6: Betsy-Tacy in Minneapolis

A collection of observations, questions, and thoughts I didn’t mention or go into detail about in my book review posts (in no particular order):

22. The spelling Anastacia for a non-Latina born in 1892 seems very anachronistic.

23. It’s really weird how Betsy, Tacy, and Tib still believe in Santa at age twelve, and still believe in him well into their teen years.

24. I roll my eyes when a book or film paints a clearly comfortably bourgeois family as struggling financially because they can only afford one servant and live in a house under 3,000 square feet!

Quotes from Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy Novels | LiteraryLadiesGuide

25. It makes no sense for shy Tacy to go from total disinterest in boys to charmed by a much-older groomer as soon as she turns eighteen. I wouldn’t be so disturbed by the nine-year age difference or even the ages she and Mr. Kerr get together if they hadn’t met while Tacy was still in high school and she weren’t so naïve and completely inexperienced with men!

26. Why the hell does Mr. Kerr even want to attend a party for high school kids when he’s 27?!

27. Betsy also does a quick about-face regarding older men. She goes from calling Mr. Kerr a grey-beard to wanting to hook up with a dude in his thirties en route to her Grand Tour a few years later!

28. How exactly did Mr. Ray’s business improve to such an extent he could afford a huge house in another part of town?

29. He can afford fancy new digs, but can’t even buy Betsy a real desk?!

30. That piece of chamois used by all the girls in the high school locker room for rubbing their faces sounds like germ city!

Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy Books): Maud Hart Lovelace, Lois Lenski: 9780064400961: AmazonSmile: Books | Favorite childhood books, Childhood books, Easy chapter books

31. Betsy’s parents really think she can do no wrong! In Betsy Was a Junior, they can’t believe her Latin teacher was so cruel as to actually punish her for trying to pass a note to Tacy during class.

32. Speaking of junior year, it was good to see Betsy facing consequences for her élitist attitudes. Teachers point-blank tell her a lot of students resent how Betsy and her Crowd have everything, and exclude her from several events she took for granted she’d be a shoe-in for.

33. Betsy’s parents aren’t really preparing her for a career in writing when they carry on about how the essay judging committee is out of its mind for daring to not hand her the prize on a silver platter. They should’ve told her you can’t win every contest, and that maybe she needs to work on her research and writing skills.

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown - Wikipedia

34. Not being from a close-knit, lovey-dovey, touchy-feely family, it was weird to read about Betsy kissing her mother multiple times a day! I don’t remember kissing my mother once my entire life, and can’t see myself ever doing so.

35. Domestic Science is a really pretentious name for home ec.

36. For a series about a budding writer, we see almost nothing of what Betsy’s actually been writing all these years! We’re not even given descriptions of her work.

Betsy and Joe - Wikipedia

37. Why couldn’t Mrs. Lovelace write a few books about Betsy’s college years and sabbatical in California? Hearing a summary of those events in other books doesn’t carry the same impact.

38. I obviously know this wasn’t done at all in mainstream books until the 1960s, but I would’ve liked reading about Betsy’s first period and how menstruation was handled in the Edwardian era.

39. Likewise with reading about Betsy’s first time wearing a corset. Particularly since Edwardian corsets, in contrast to Victorian ones, came all the way down over the thighs, changing the position of the hips, and made walking very difficult and restrictive.

40. And Betsy’s first time having sex! Nothing graphic or even an actual sex scene, but just her feelings about the experience.

41. Are she and Joe using any birth control?

42. I know most people used a “generic he” in this era, but it felt wrong and jarring to see that grammatical convention used even when referring to an all-female group!


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

4 thoughts on “General thoughts on the Betsy-Tacy series, Part II

  1. While I’ve not read the series (I had no idea it existed, more the shame on me), I confess… it sounds more like the author was trying to write a story she THOUGHT readers wanted instead what really made sense. It seemed like the female version of the overdone Horatio Alger hero given the commentary you pose here


    1. Thanks Eden:

      I can see the Horatio Alger elements

      especially when it came to the writing contest

      [though maybe some of the journalistic heroes of that world would have put in the work, unlike Betsy].

      It is harder when your family isn’t part of a writing community or even writers themselves.

      That is what they thought was showing support to Betsy.

      With the Alger thing you would have to be much more self-made than Betsy ever had been or had the opportunity to be.


      Eden, I did know the Betsy-Tacy series existed – back in 1997 when I was reading Margery Fisher’s WHO’S WHO IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

      where Betsy has quite a substantive article.

      It was not until the early 2000s that there was a discussion on a reader’s group [Girlsown] which was accessible to me.

      And they probably were reprinted a lot later in the 2000s as well as very recently.


      About the Anastacia for non-Latina spelling in 1892:

      One of our current-day singers has that name and that spelling. I do not think she has any Latina ancestry though I could be wrong.

      I also think of Queensland’s Premier – her name is Annastacia [Palaszczuk] – who became Premier after Anna Bligh in 2012. Her birth was in the 1960s.


      I don’t know that Betsy and Tib and Tacy had any reason to *dis*believe in Santa/Father Christmas/that northern hemisphere giving figure.

      And believe in their own right – not only to be Santa to younger siblings in their lives and other children.


      Also I think other businesses in their orbit may have got worse. Yes, I know this was before the Great Depression – so they broke down more quietly.

      An issue of relative rather than absolute poverty/largesse.


      Lovelace probably did not know much about the California University system or she wanted her readers to imagine it – especially the ones that lived there and knew it.

      [sort of the same reason that Susan Coolidge didn’t cover various things about Katy and Clover’s further studies/adult life].

      Or am I conflating the sabbatical and Betsy’s university years?

      [the sabbatical clearly happened after].


      Domestic Science was the standard name for the thing in the United Kingdom [at least England and Wales]

      and it carried over into many European countries – for example in Austria and in Switzerland.

      Possibly even into Russia.

      Home Economics is what was done at home – Domestic Science was much more of a “worldly” concept – or I would have called it “hosting” and “hospitality” at least when it came to the vocational thing.

      It’s like calling journalism; broadcast radio and television “Media Studies”

      or linguistics and sociolinguistic analysis “English Language”.

      In Australia home economics is split into “Food Technology” and “Fabric Technology” as one of the Communication and Design subjects [though again with the federalised/de-centralised education like in the USA and in France].


      Eden – what stories do you remember from this era?

      [will admit I found out about Alger through Louisa May Alcott in either GOOD WIVES or JO’S BOYS – probably less likely LITTLE MEN even if the Plumfield boys did read it – especially Dan].

      Glad you now “know” something about Betsy and Tacy.


      1. Oh… so much detail. Thank you. I’d say I have a limited exposure to Depression Era (and before) books. Of course, I know about the Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, Tom Swifts, Cherry Ames, The Five Little Peppers, Hardy Boys, etc. I also have some odd ones like The Valdere Mystery (The Atomic Ray) by John Milton, a few Horatio Algers (my grandmother passed those on to me), The Great K & A Train Robbery by Paul Ford… etc. I love reading the original versions of serials allong with rewrites because they prove beautiful glimpses of how our society’s values shift over time.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Still weirdly fascinating

    Somehow, Betsy’s world seem like grandma’;s collection of pre WWI – 1930’s school stories, involving an Abbey, and marrying the nearest title. Ideally, he’ll die, before the first baby, releasing the title for your best pal.
    Schoolroom to delivery suite at high speed, via the briefest of honeymoons.
    Farm girl is, of course, really an heiress.
    Moral of these takes ? There’s a divinity that shapes our lives ?


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