I found Ludmila and The Lonely by Paul Gallico to be slightly too soppy for my taste. I loved Mrs ‘Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico and overlooked the soppiness in that story because I loved the movie starring Angela Lansbury as Mrs ‘Arris, but this time around the overblown sentimentality made me cringe.
Ludmila is a story about a poor little cow who doesn’t have much milk, who comes good and proves her worth to everyone after a miracle. The blurb on the back says the story is the retelling of “a charming pastoral legend of old Liechtenstein.” At least the story was short and the drawings by Reisie Lonette were sweet. (I know, I know, I’m such a cow for saying this. Moo to you too).
The Lonely is also a short story, and was the most unlikely match for Ludmila that I could have imagined. I expect they were only published together because of the suitability of their length.
The Lonely tells the story of Jerry, a young American man in England during WW2 who was forced by his superior officer to take leave. Jerry asked Patches, who was in the WAAF and who conveniently had leave due to her at the same time, to holiday with him in Scotland. The arrangement was that at the end of their holiday Jerry and Patches would wish each other good luck and go their separate ways, after their couple of weeks of ‘fun.’
This story was more complicated, as Jerry had a fiancé at home in the USA whom he thought of as a goddess. Patches was in love with Jerry, but like a good sport, hid her true feelings from him. In my opinion Jerry was an immature idiot, who needed a few more years to grow up before he launched himself on any woman.
Paul Gallico also wrote The Poseidon Adventure, the movie of which gave me nightmares for years afterwards. The scene where a character jumps and swings from a burning-hot wheel to open or shut something, I forget which, in order to save the other characters before falling into the fire below is something I have never managed to forget.
The Snow Goose is held up to be this author’s best work. I haven’t read this, but plan to some time.