GLH and The Story of a Whim

Have you read The Story of a Whim by Isabella’s niece, Grace Livingston Hill?

It’s a tale about mistaken identity, good intentions, and false assumptions. It’s also a story about the power of God’s healing love when we need it most.

The original 1903 cover for “The Story of a Whim”

The Story of a Whim was first published in 1903; then, in 1924 publishers J. B. Lippincott reprinted the novel for a whole new generation of readers.

To celebrate the re-release, Lippincott promoted both the book and the author to newspapers across the country.

Here’s one of those articles; it appeared 95 years ago in the Oakland Tribune (California) on Sunday, November 23, 1924, and summarized the plot of the novel very well:

The article reads:

Grace Livingston Hill has written a story that will take its place beside “Daddy Long-Legs,” for it is that kind of book. It concerns a lonely young man who spelled his name “Christie” and who thereby won happiness.

When a young girl wrote him an affectionate letter, believing he was another girl, Christie fell to the temptation of replying in the role. Representing himself as a spinster of 28, he kept up the writing friendship, adding details. Obligations followed, for the girl gave him work to do. After she had insisted upon his starting a Sunday school and has sent him an organ and music, she came down to investigate the stories she had heard concerning his success. One may guess at the conclusion.

It is a story with plenty of opportunity for gentle humor, a gay and wholesome tale fitted as a gift or a friend. It will be a favorite with a large number of readers.

The article was accompanied by a very nice photo of Grace:

That was 95 years ago! And readers today are just as enthusiastic about Grace’s “gentle humor” and “wholesome tales” as they were when her novels were first published.

Have you read The Story of a Whim? What do you think? Did the newspaper give an accurate summary of the book’s plot?

The Pansy Tree

Publishing The Pansy magazine was a family affair. Every two weeks Isabella and her husband edited a new issue of the juvenile magazine. Each issue featured stories that were both instructive and entertaining, as well as articles about foreign lands and lessons on nature and science.

But perhaps the feature Isabella loved most was “The P. S. Corner.” In this column she printed letters she received from members of The Pansy Society. Children joined the society simply by pledging to overcome a fault (such as arguing with a sister, or shirking chores) with Jesus’ help.

Every month, hundreds of children wrote letters to The Pansy to tell of their pledges, their successes and their failures. Isabella treasured the letters, and called Pansy Society members her “blossoms.”

Even more importantly, Isabella answered all the letters! Sometimes she replied with congratulations, sometimes with encouragement and sympathy, as in this short note to Bessie from Nebraska:

Poor little blossom! It is very hard work to be unselfish, especially when so many grown people set us a bad example. Try hard, my dear.

Her “blossoms” adored her. So when an elementary school in Ravenna, Ohio planned an Arbor Day celebration in 1884, the children decided to plant a tree and name it Pansy, in honor of their favorite author.

Arbor Day at Fremont School, Santa Rosa, California; 1917

Isabella found out about it, and a few days after the Arbor Day ceremony, she sent the school a lovely letter.

Dear Young Blossoms:

How shall Pansy thank you for the sweet thought which made you choose out her from among all the people in this full world for the honor bestowed?

Oh, I hope the tree will grow, and grow, and spread out its branches, and cast its cool, restful shadows just as far as God meant it should, and do its own pleasant work in the world.

An Arbor Day ceremony at a small school in Massachusetts; 1915.

Later in the letter, Isabella reminded the young arborists that there was another tree—the tree of life—that was even more important:

Fair young blossoms, will you grow in beauty and bloom always for Jesus? Shall we gather, all of us, some day, under the branches of the tree of life, and talk the earth-story over?

She closed the letter to the children as she always did—with an earnest invitation to one day meet her in Heaven.

I do not know that I can ever stand under the shade of the green tree that you have so kindly named for me, but I feel sure of that other one. Will you all meet me there?

Your grateful friend,

Her sweet letter to the children was printed in the local newspaper. You can read the entire letter by clicking on the image below.

Would you like to know more about the Pansy Society? Click here to read a previous post.

And you can click here to read a post about The Pansy magazine.

This post is part of our Blogiversary Celebration! Leave a comment below or on Isabella’s Facebook page to be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! We’ll announce the winner on Friday, September 21!