Lost Daughter by Louise Redfield Peattie. Putnam (1938), 238 pp.
Jinny Gilder, beautiful and popular, lives with her doting parents, Consuelo and Chase, on a hillside estate in Montecito. Like many nineteen-year-olds, she wonders what she must do to create an authentic life. Especially puzzling is a recurring vision of herself as a child in another place with another name. Her parents deny that she’s adopted, but in fact she was - - or at least she was obtained from a disabled woman who claimed to be her mother. While Jinny contemplates marriage to the smarmy but socially acceptable Kellem Nye, Chase Gilder pursues the truth about the origins of his daughter.
This novel has a surprisingly complicated structure. There are a half-dozen major characters, several points of view, important flashbacks, and some surprising plot twists. But the book is hemmed in by the conventions of romance fiction. The characters are no edgier than cream puffs, running from kind and self-sacrificing to well-meaning but oblivious. The narrative style too often drifts into the florid - - descriptions of landscape are a favorite - - while the stilted dialogue sounds little like actual conversation. And the reader will know the identity of Jinny's true soulmate long before she meets him. Of course, these characteristics of the novel may not be considered shortcomings by many readers of romance fiction. They might like the book a lot.