A pleasant if somewhat vague debut about an aviatrix in the 1920s.
The Demarests of New York have a lovely country house, entertain intellectuals, and are raising their only daughter to have a mind of her own—a novel idea at the time. The idyll ends when Lenora’s mother suddenly dies, and father and daughter (Lenora is now 17) decide to start anew in Puerto Rico. Henry Demarest buys a grapefruit plantation and the two quickly settle into their new tropical life. They are benevolent and freethinking employers, and only occasionally do their new friends mention dissatisfaction at American occupation of their island. Lenora finds an admirer in Ignacio, who, through a generous gift of an Italian medallion, spurs on Lenora a lifelong interest in jewelry. Still, her love of fine gems dulls in comparison to her desire to fly, which dates from her meeting a certain aviator, George Hanson, on first coming to Puerto Rico, when the pair struck up a long-term correspondence, and Lenora began to dream of the sky. The years go by and Ignacio continues to pursue Lenora, as does George (who teaches her to fly). Lenora begins to collect exotic animals as well as jewelry, and her father falls in love with, and marries, their young housekeeper. All this, told in short snapshot-like chapters, conveys the events but keeps the characters’ emotional lives at arm’s reach, giving an otherworldly quality to the story, with Lenora seeming more an archetype of the century’s New Woman than a fallible being. By end, the reader has been given the essentials of a life without having connected to any of the sorrow or joy. When her father dies, and Lenora inherits the plantation, she becomes an independent woman, adventuring in her plane and turning her once-ardent pursuers into cherished friends.
An attractive cast and the author’s evident love of Puerto Rican culture save (but barely) this restrained portrait of a modern woman.