What California Did to Betsy West by Olive Gardner. Wetzel Publishing Co. (1930), 70 pp.
Betsy West is bored by her life as a Boston heiress. Nothing excites her -- not avant garde ideas, not flapperish fun, and especially not her loyal but dull boyfriend, Loyd Latimer. Rather than committing suicide in some uninteresting way, she has moved to Los Angeles and rented a cheap apartment near the beach. At first Angelinos seem just as tedious as folks back east. Then she meets Leo Silt, a well built businessman with his eye on the main chance and a deep respect for family values and traditional religion. He’s also a clever conversationalist who’s not turned off by Betsy’s downbeat view of life. Soon she’s startled to discover that she’s falling in love. She’s so smitten, in fact, by her California Man that she doesn’t think much about the long-term prospects for their relationship.
Even before this novella begins, the author announces that the story is partly autobiographical. But, unless her descendants founded a restaurant chain, readers do not know who the author is. In any case, she seems to know what she’s doing. Her protagonist, who spends a lot of time talking to herself in a cynically amusing fashion, keeps things light for most of the story. (Anita Loos could easily have been the author’s stylistic inspiration.) So the book is an easy read. The ending, however, seems inadequately foreshadowed and may leave readers wishing to know more.