Book Report: Private Edition by Macfadden Publishing (1950)

Let’s face it, looking at the cover of this book, a cheap black binding with only the words “Private Edition” underlined in pink cursive, one gets the sense that this might be a certain type of book. When one reads the first line of the first story, “As I fastened my dress–the soft, pretty one of pongee that I made especially for Dad’s arrival…”, one might think, Holy pongee, it is that kind of book!.

But one might then remember that this is a Macfadden Publishing collection from its old True Confessions style magazines. Instead of hardboiled morality plays featuring violence and stoic codes, we get gushy melodramas about how to deal with moral failings of the heart and lovelife. Unfortunately, many of them deal with contrived and rather silly “failings.” In the first, a woman’s hopes of a good marriage to a loving man are almost lost when it’s discovered that his first wife, presumed dead, is alive, so the protagonist is not really his wife. She shuns the husband then, fearing a scandal. Or another woman calls off a marriage and enters a life of charitable service–because her mother was a shoplifter!

The book isn’t a very good read, and it is most interesting as a historical document possibly offering insight into the mind of a young woman in the years after the war. These were her concerns, these were the parables to show her how not to get into trouble and how to find redemption if she got into trouble. Or at least these were the concerns peddled to her by Macfadden Publishing. Given that it made Macfadden himself rich, he must have touched someone and convinced them to buy these stories.

Books mentioned in this review: