Classics Club Spin Pick: Bab:A Sub-Deb by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Classics Club

The Classics Club Spin was announced and the number was #1, which meant that I will be reading Bab: A Sub-Deb by Mary Roberts Rinehart. I had planned on reading this book in January, as part of another bookish event, but soon realized I wasn’t quite in the mood for its comedic style, so I put it off for a better time. And now I’m quite ready for it. Earlier this evening, I picked the book up “just for a look” and ended up reading the first of its five sections (it reads very quickly).

Bab: A Sub-Deb was published in 1916 by Mary Roberts Rinehart. Let me summarize what I learned about Rinehart on Wikipedia: during a finanically difficult time, Rinehart began writing as a way to support her family (she had four children with her husband). She eventually became a very popular writer, and even went to Europe to report on the first World War. But her mysteries were her bread and butter; she was apparently called the “American Agatha Christie”. She created a caped villain called “The Bat” for a Broadway play, which was later adapted to a film called “The Bat Whispers,” and it was that incarnation of the Bat which helped inspire Bob Kane’s character, Batman. There are many other cool facts about Rinehart in that wikipedia entry, but I’ll keep myself to just that interesting piece of trivia.

Bab: A Sub-Deb, the first book I’ve ever read by Rinehart, does not fall into the author’s usual genre. It is a light comic piece about a seventeen year old girl named Barbara (called Bab) who just wants to be an adult – a debutante – like her older sister, but is instead consigned to sub-debutante purgatory (hence the “sub-deb” of the title). The book – at least the first section – is written as if for a school paper. Bab’s spelling is atrocious but the narration of her various travails is hilarious. I’m sure she’ll mature over the course of the book, but right now she’s in a certain lovable brat stage. My reaction to her so far reminds me of my reaction to Colette’s delightful creation of Claudine in Claudine at School. It’s a reaction of: I’m not sure I would want to meet this person, but am thoroughly entertained by her as a character. That said, Bab is much more naive than Claudine, and more moral, so it’s really more of a surface similarity that struck me. We’ll see what I think after I finish.

Aarti of BookLust is responsible for bringing this book to my attention. If you’re reading this, Aarti, sorry I didn’t get to this in January liked I planned, but it’s really going to happen this time!



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3 responses to “Classics Club Spin Pick: Bab:A Sub-Deb by Mary Roberts Rinehart

  1. bridget hunter

    Oh, this looks like a fun read. I’ve read a couple others by Mary Roberts Rineheart and liked them. I’m looking forward to see what you think of this one :).

  2. piningforthewest

    I didn’t get around to doing the spin this month, I might just read number 1 on last month’s list. This Rinehart book sounds very different from the few which I have read. Her books don’t pop up often in Scotland.

  3. I didn’t know this author ever stepped out of her genre. I only ever hear about her more murdery mystery books. Interesting!

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