Oh, I really hope a lot of you read this! I just love it because it is so ridiculous, and I feel like DCIB is a community that loves the ridiculous.
This is the most ridiculous wish fulfillment-y kind of a story for boys, but I don’t care, because it is enjoyable for me too! Let me explain why:
The heroine is respected for her personality! Richard Harding Davis is big on spunky brave heroines who are more interesting than just pretty women.
The hero doesn’t fully buy into his own awesomeness. RHD heroes are always brave and smart and stuff, but just think of themselves as regular people who muddle along and try to do the right thing. They aren’t ambitious, if that makes sense, they see themselves as just regular people trying to help.
The world of RHD is so insular that it isn’t that racist/classist? Sort of by accident. He never bothers to write non-white characters, or even non-super-educated or non-moderately-well-off characters. This story comes close, but it lands on kind of a middle-class pleasant reformed older criminal.
The PLOT!!!! This is like an Agatha Christie sort of in terms of him clearly starting with the central riddle of the story and then building all the rest around it. Just such a great tension. Father secretly robbing to pay to make his daughter a lady, then framing someone else for his crimes who he realizes is the man his daughter loves, and the man realizing the father is guilty, and this whole ever growing confusion.
To make that central riddle work (which I do think was his main interest), he had to sell us on the heroine and the romance, and I think he does. Making her this kind of diamond in a coal mine type, with a natural dignity and intelligence that makes her the equal of a son of privilege, more so than the striving officer’s wives. And making their romance this thing neither of them says out loud even to themselves and they just sort of drift into it, until suddenly it is a Big Big Thing for them. I buy the hero as a smart bored young man who has a little more growing up to do, and the heroine as a young woman who is more romantic than she lets herself believe.
First most important: Who would you cast as father, hero, and heroine? Stay with me on this, I would do Shahrukh, Varun, Alia. Right??? And have it a, like, construction zone or something where the young rich son is sent off to work and ends up hanging out at the local canteen owned by Shahrukh who has a villainous past.
Second question: Was the heroine too drab? Should she have been smarter and talked more instead of just going along with things mostly?
Third question: Is this relationship actually going to last? Or did they fall in love with the idea of each other more than the reality?
Fourth question: If you had to choose, do you think the hero or the father should have taken responsibility? On the one hand, if the father takes it, he can go to jail and his daughter can marry and have her whole life wiped clean. Also, he is actually guilty. On the other hand, if the hero takes it, it will all be hushed up and nothing bad will really happen to him because he is so powerful.
Final question: do you feel the need to read any more Richard Harding Davis, or is this pretty much enough for you?