Mrs Daffodil, Gladys Taber, J P Lippincott Company, 1957, 284 pp
Back before I invented My Big Fat Reading Project, I was on a quest to read all the fiction in my local library. Crazy, I know. I started out working through all the books authored by anyone whose last name started with A, like Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, from whom I got the idea. But I am easily bored and I had gotten into some author I did not really like, so I moved on. I read the first book I found at the beginning of each letter. That is how I ended up reading Mrs Daffodil. Eventually, because it was recorded in my reading log from 2001, it ended up on the 1957 list of books read for the Big Fat Reading Project.
Because of the cover, I thought it was going to be a dumb little book, but it was actually charming and humorous. Gladys Taber was a real life author of magazine articles in the 1950s and she turned this experience into a novel. A reviewer I read on Amazon speculated that she got to say things she could not write about in her articles.
Mrs Daffodil is a magazine and short story writer who lives with a friend named Kay. I imagined these two women as a sort of harmless American version of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas. They live in a house in the country (probably outside of NYC) with a Siamese, a red setter and several other dogs. Mrs Daffodil is always under deadline and stressed out by that, but the two bumble along continuously dieting, hosting weekend visitors, trying to find domestic help and overall being very caring, loving women to each other and their friends.
I ended up loving it and having lots of laughs. I am a happily married woman and definitely heterosexual but from time to time I think about how much fun it would be to live with a woman friend instead of a man. It would be a whole different set of circumstances. I wonder if there are any modern novels that would compare to Mrs Daffodil. Please let us know in the comments if you know of any.
(Mrs Daffodil is out of print and the lowest price I found on the web for a used copy was $50! It must be some kind of collector's item. I found it of course at the library.)