One would not expect much more than a combination of "Dear Diary" and Harold Teen in a semi-autobiography describing the senior year of a clique of Vassar girls. In "Consider the Daisies," however, Miss Gertrude Carrick (with the ink scarcely dry on her sheepskin) returns to her alma mater for the setting of an unusually good, strikingly realistic first novel.
With acute insight and poignant character interpretation, she portrays the Vassar girls you've met at House dances and chatted with on the lawns at Poughkeepsie. There's Flip, editor of the Vassar Review, who wants to write but isn't sure of her talent. Gary, once the child prodigy poetess, is now a harried girl facing expulsion for having tried to cheat her way into Phi Beta Kappa to fulfill her father's expectations. Jill, who is blonde and beautiful and brainless, wants the bright lights of the stage; Liz serious and restrained, wants the security of a wedding ring and a home. Lee, coldly calculating but warmly amorous, wants above all and at any price to reach financial independence. Stock figures they are, but the author succeeds in developing them as characters more than caricatures.
The girls not only stand out as distinct individuals but also mature in the course of the volume. At points the intimate realism in describing Flip's artistic ambitions, her crush on Professor Brooks Creighton, and her feeling of estrangement from the life at home, approaches the bitter dissection of college life in Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel"-though Miss Carrick's approach lacks his sweeping inclusiveness and turgid power. Her polished style and delicate portrayal temperament are more in the urbane manner of Willa Cather. Only the concluding chapter betrays a novice hand. The threads of the plot, unsnarled but not firmly and finally knotted, dangle rather loosely.
Far beyond the natural interest of any male at an Eastern college to peek into a suite at Lathrop Hall, to find that the stresses of Harvard monastic life are duplicated at the Poughkeepsie nunnery, and to eavesdrop on "heifer" sessions-beyond this aspect, "Consider the Daisies" will appeal to undergraduates as a novel of, by, and for collegians. Writing with matured comprehension but with the fresh vigor and enthusiasm of youth. Miss Carrick gives promise of joining the most faithful portrayers of the American scene.