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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Please Don't Eat the Daisies, But DO Read Jean Kerr's Books!

Jean Kerr - Time Magazine Cover Girl
 If I say the name "Jean Kerr", what comes to mind?  Nothing?  Well, you are probably not alone.  I don't find many who recall the name, but many remember the movie based on her book "Please Don't Eat the Daisies", starring Doris Day.

Jean Kerr was a playwright and essayist who penned the play "The Song of Bernadette", later adapted for a film starring Jennifer Jones.  She was also the wife of noted New York theater critic Walter Kerr and the mother of six boisterous boys.  It was her hectic family life that served as the basis for most of her essays and boy can I relate when I read her laugh out loud tales.

Even though she started writing her short pieces over 50 years ago, they are just as funny and relevant today.  The antics of children haven't changed as much as you might think, and the reactions of parents are pretty similar, too.  One of the nice things about her stories is that they never sound bitter.  Here's a woman who likes her role as wife and mother, loves her husband and sons, but also has no illusions about them.  She can clearly see the humor in most situations, but never resorts to cheap laughs at the expense of others.

While I've read her first book "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" several times in the past, I'm about halfway through "The Snake Gets All the Lines".  Her tales of days at the beach with children are right on the mark, and her imagined letters of complaint to everyone from the manufacturer of her supposedly colorfast curtains to the ad department at Bergdorf Goodman make for delightful reading.

Perhaps one of the most charming things about Kerr's books are the little insights it gives into life in mid-century America.  It was a time when people dressed up to go shopping (thankfully Jean finds a dress that's good enough to wear to Saks, even if it doesn't actually look good on HER) and life was led with a little more polish.

If you're looking for a quick, amusing and truly pleasant read, find a copy of any of Jean Kerr's books, often found in the "humor" sections at local thrift stores.  And, for an added treat, watch Doris Day's wonderful version of "Please Don't Eat the Daisies"!

1 comment:

  1. Remember the 60s TV version? I loved that show!
    Another book (albeit in a more sardonic vein) is Shirley Jackson's "Life Among the Savages." Try it!