The Discontent of Mary Wenger (Paper Dolls, Book 1) - Book Review

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Book Review of :  The Discontent of Mary Wenger (Paper Dolls, Book 1)


The Discontent of Mary Wenger, Paper Dolls, Book 1 by Robert Tucker is a mellow and thoroughly engaging story that narrates with humor and affection the life of Mary Wenger and the changing American scene of the early 1900s. Tucker gives the reader a vivid glimpse of the day-to-day life of the protagonist, Mary, as she tells of her life and of those around her.

The narrative begins when Mary experiences the loss of her baby sister and then quickly delves into the background of her very conservative parents. The guilt her parents felt over the loss of the baby was the impetus that brought them to become Jehovah's Witnesses. But, unfortunately, their adherence to this religion alienated them from their neighbors, who were predominantly Catholic and Lutheran. She tells of how difficult her mother's life was as a child and the mistreatment she endured and finally escaped by running away.

Mary's parents were very protective of her and her brother, John, and discouraged them from having relations with the opposite sex. After discovering a wet spot on John's sheets, they even began to check his bed for signs of nocturnal emission that would indicate him having wicked thoughts. Mary as a teenager, had blossomed into a beautiful blonde hair vixen that was very attractive to the boys, and her mother fretted over it. She even felt that the way Mary walked was provocative.

The fictional memoir narrated the marriage of Mary to Bob, who would become a military officer to serve in New Guinea during the second world war. Then he became a real estate agent. The novel narrated their day-to-day life. Tucker includes the sad life of her sisters in the novel also. The accounts seem real and often heartbreaking. How did her generation spend their days, and how were they affected by the popular culture? What were their work and domestic lives like? Mary's recollections answer those questions.

Mary's narration takes you through her father's death, her teaching career, and her continuing love for her husband. The Discontent of Mary Wenger, Paper Dolls, Book 1 represents a penetrating information-packed portrait of Main Street, USA, during a tumultuous time. Tucker demonstrates his unique gift for writing social history in terms that everyone who reads can understand—and enjoy!

The novel is a peek into a different era, a way for those who never experienced that period to get a glimpse of what life was like for women back then. For readers who lived in the 40s and 50s, this book's vivid account of childhood and life in America during that period will bring back many memories. Tucker's novel explores friendship, the lives, and roles of women during World War II. The Discontent of Mary Wenger, Paper Dolls is a beautiful, deeply atmospheric, magical novel about a woman way ahead of her time, her power, and the conflicts and love that were so much a part of her life. 

Reviewed by: James B

About Robert Tucker

Robert Tucker, the author of The Revolutionist, A Season of Sons, and Pulitzer-Nominated Burton Blake, is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his graduate degree in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles. Rob worked as a business and management consultant to advertising, corporate communications, and media production companies as well as many others. Now retired, he resides with his wife in Southern California where he devotes much of his time to writing. He is a recipient of the Samuel Goldwyn and Donald Davis Literary Awards. An affinity for family and the astute observation of generational interaction pervade his novels. His works are literary and genre upmarket fiction that address the nature and importance of personal integrity.

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