REVIEW: Grace Livingston Hill’s BEAUTY FOR ASHES

Beauty For AshesGrace Livingston Hill’s Beauty For Ashes was published in 1935.  Not a happy year in America: Pres. Roosevelt’s New Deal valiantly addressed the Depression’s ravages, while the Dust Bowl resisted gains against deprivation, unemployment, and rural stagnation.  A give and take, a push and pull, of hope and despair.  The iconic representation of the Depression remains Dorothea Lange’s 1936 “Migrant Mother,” after the publication of Livingston Hill’s inspirational romance.  Amidst these hardships, Miss Bates likes to imagine that Livingston Hill’s novels provided comfort, respite, and hope for thousands of readers.  Miss Bates read one more Livingston Hill romance, reviewed here; she confronted the same problems in Beauty For Ashes as she did in the previous one.  However, she read Beauty with less consternation at the evangelical fervor (familiarity, in this case, breeds tolerance) and Manichaean characterization and greater appreciation for elements she acknowledged as worthy and interesting in her initial impression of Livingston Hill’s signature fiction.  She ended her previous review uncertain about reading more of GLH, but in this second volume, Miss Bates looks at GLH with affection, while recognizing that she remains “not for everyone.” Continue reading