GREAT PROMISE by Noel Houston


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Cut out the bawdy scenes and obscene dialogue and you'd have galloping motion picture material in melodrama genre. As a novel it seems ridiculously overwritten, trite, banal and boring. An illegitimate Southern girl marries -- at 17 -- a con man she encountered 24 hours before in Washington, where she had gone to visit a school friend and see the inauguration of McKinley. On her side, the marriage is an escape from a Barretesque father, only to find herself exposed to every sort of degredation at the hands of a sadist, one of a gang of crooks who plan to milk the proposed new community of Indian Territory, opened up by government lottery. Some of the pioneer material has elements of novelty and interest -- but again goes sheer melodrama when Tony is shot down by one of his own gang, and Sawyer finds herself winner of an $80,000 lottery, and able to buy her way into the elite of the frontier settlement. The leader of the gang, uses Sawyer as a foil in his corrupt schemes, but a young lawyer whom she had met in Washington, outwits him, and brings the crooks to heel. Sophisticates -- crooks -- bawds -- an Indian or so -- a modicum of decent characters, crowd the stage. There's more authenticity in the lewd scenes than in the romantic ones (and Sawyer has plenty of variety here). But we can't see that the values of a segment of unpalatable history justifies as cheap a book as this one.

Pub Date: March 18th, 1946
Publisher: Reynal & Hitchcock