Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties

By Edmund Wilson | Go to book overview

AMBUSHING A BEST-SELLER

THIS MAGAZINE has not always shown foresight in recognizing future successes, and it has sometimes ignored or dismissed in a note novels that were destined to sell hundreds of thousands and to go on selling for years. I have, therefore, lately been watching the publishers' lists in the hope of catching one of these books before it started on its triumphant progress; and, difficult though it seems to be to distinguish the coming best-seller from other specimens of inferior fiction, I have decided--from the amount and kind of advertising that the book is being given by the publisher and from the appearance of a picture of the heroine on the cover of "Publisher's Weekly" --that The Turquoise, by Anya Seton, has a good chance of landing in the upper brackets. I may be wrong, but I am going to report on it on the assumption that it will be widely read.

The heroine of The Turquoise, then, is, as I hardly need to say, a Cinderella. The child of the younger son of a Scottish baronet and of the daughter of a Spanish hidalgo resident in the American Southwest, she is early left a penniless orphan and grows up among the illiterate natives, part Indian, part Spanish, of New Mexico. "Her mouth, always wide, lost its childish innocence, and the lips revealed a passionate curve. Her skin grew moister and more glowing; beneath the dirt and tan shone the

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