October 10, 2012
SVH Saga, The Patmans of Sweet Valley: Patman Begins
Summary: 1825-1846: Sophie Edmonton, daughter of an English duke, falls in love with a stable hand named Henry Patman. (Sigh.) Since he’s poor, she has to keep the relationship from her father. Sophie and Henry plan to elope, but her sister Melanie reads her diary and tells their father what they’re planning. Henry winds up deported and Sophie winds up with a lord. Meanwhile, Henry goes to New York and wins a plantation in a poker game.
1851-1852: Sophie’s daughter Emma runs away from a planned marriage so she can become an actress in London. She changes her name to Vanessa and doesn’t tell anyone her father’s an earl. She lives with a guy named Patrick, who falls in love with her and proposes, and though she accepts at first, she ultimately leaves to join a traveling troupe. She falls in love with the director, who is secretly the son of a marquess. Why are all these rich people pretending not to be rich?
1861-1864: There’s this really boring section about James Patman (Henry’s son) disagreeing with his family about slavery being wrong, then helping free slaves via the Underground Railroad. He marries a former slave named Hope and she gets pregnant, but before she can have the baby, she’s murdered. (This was the only part of the book I had any kind of emotional connection to. Everything else was bleh.) James goes back home and learns that his whole family’s dead. Cheerful!
1886: Katherine (granddaughter of Emma) is an up-and-coming teenage actress. She travels to America with the Royal Shakespeare Company and falls in love with James’ son John in Kansas. The night she’s supposed to leave, he plans to meet her at the train station and propose. But there’s a robbery at the bar where John works and Katherine leaves on a train just before he can get to her. She’s hurt because she thought John stood her up, but she reads about the hold-up in the newspaper and goes back to Kansas. She’s too late, though – John has already split town. Oh, and her whole family is dead, too, because of a fire. What’s up with people’s whole families getting wiped out?
1890-1893: John goes to Texas and hooks up with a cowgirl named Samantha (no relation to this Samantha). Just as he’s about to head to another city to look for work, since their ranch isn’t doing well, they find oil.
1924-1927: William (one of John and Samantha’s kids) marries Helena and they have a son named Paul who dies when he’s just few weeks old. Hold on to that thought.
1941-1945: Katherine has a daughter named Cassandra, who becomes a doctor and works at a hospital in Europe during World War II. She falls in love with a wounded solder named Spencer and gets pregnant. But Spencer returns to the war and is killed in battle, and the news makes Cassandra miscarry. In 1945, Spencer’s best friend Peter looks Cassandra up and they get together. She’s supposedly not able to have any more kids, but has two anyway, Marie and Peter.
Meanwhile, a guy named Reginald Rainier starts working for William and becomes like a son to him. Helena meets him and thinks he looks like William. Some digging turns up a very soap operaish story: Reginald and Paul (William and Helena’s son, remember) were switched at birth, and Reginald is really a Patman. So now Reginald has money and marries his girlfriend May, who, if you ask me is a little too interested in his sudden inheritance. They name their first child Henry, after Reginald’s adoptive father. (They later have a son named Paul – that would be Roger Barrett Patman’s father – and I thought it was sweet that they named him after William and Helena’s late “son.”)
1960s: The two families come together again – Henry and Marie go to high school together and get engaged their senior year. She learns she has leukemia and thinks she’s going to die, so she breaks up with Henry in a letter. He’s in California at the time and decides to go to college there instead of Harvard. As we know, he gets together with Alice but she dumps him for Ned. A few years later, Marie moves to L.A. and runs into Henry. She finally tells him about her illness and recovery, and he forgives her for lying. They quickly get engaged, get married, and have everyone’s favorite potential rapist, Bruce.
Thoughts: Henry’s not just a stable hand, he’s a stable hand who says, “As you wish.” I think we all know who that character is based on.
Find me one person who cares what Bruce Patman’s great-great-grand-something thought about slavery. I dare you. I mean, there’s a whole chapter of the family fighting about secession. SO BORING.
I know people didn’t live as long in the past, but did they all have to get married after two months of dating? Because pretty much everyone in this book (and the other sagas) practically runs to the altar. And these aren’t even shotgun weddings.
Bruce’s ancestors are all better people than he is. And Marie and Hank seem like normal people, so I can’t figure out where they went wrong with the kid.