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Patty’s Friends by Carolyn Wells

“Patty’s Friends” is a novel by Carolyn Wells, first published in 1908.

The novel tells the story of Patty Fairfield, a young woman who lives in New York City with her wealthy parents. Patty is intelligent, independent, and determined, and she becomes fast friends with a diverse group of people who challenge and inspire her in different ways. The novel is known for its witty dialogue, its colorful characters, and its exploration of the social and cultural mores of the early 20th century.

The novel is introduced by Wells in the form of a preface, in which she explains her motivations for writing the book and her approach to storytelling. Wells notes that she was inspired to write the novel after observing the vibrant and diverse social scene in New York City, and she describes her intention to create a cast of characters who are complex, interesting, and relatable. She also explains her use of humor and satire, which she believes can be a powerful tool for critiquing social norms and challenging readers’ assumptions.

The novel is divided into several sections, each of which focuses on a different aspect of Patty’s life and relationships. In the first section, Patty attends a prestigious girls’ school and becomes friends with several of her classmates, including the serious and studious Mabel Farrish, the free-spirited and unconventional Priscilla Wharton, and the aristocratic and haughty Elise Farrington. Patty also becomes romantically involved with a charming and ambitious young man named Roger Farraday, who is determined to make a name for himself in the business world.

In the second section of the novel, Patty returns home to New York City and becomes involved in a range of social and cultural activities. She attends concerts, plays, and art exhibitions, and she becomes friends with a number of interesting and influential people, including a wealthy philanthropist named Mrs. Parsons, a prominent socialite named Mrs. Van Reypen, and a brilliant and eccentric artist named Rufus Blent.

Throughout the novel, Wells explores a range of social and cultural issues, including the pressure on women to conform to societal norms, the limitations of traditional gender roles, and the importance of personal autonomy and individual choice. She also provides a vivid portrait of early 20th century New York City, with its bustling streets, vibrant cultural scene, and complex social hierarchies.

One of the novel’s most notable features is its use of humor and satire. Wells’ witty and irreverent tone allows her to critique social norms and conventions in a way that is both incisive and entertaining. Her characters are often larger-than-life caricatures, but they also feel grounded in a recognizable reality, and their struggles and desires are relatable and emotionally resonant.

Despite its humor and light-hearted tone, “Patty’s Friends” also has a serious and poignant message. The novel is ultimately a call for greater individual freedom and autonomy, and a critique of the social and cultural pressures that prevent people from living their lives on their own terms. It is a celebration of friendship, love, and romance, but also a reminder that personal happiness and fulfillment are more important than societal expectations or conventions.

In conclusion, “Patty’s Friends” is a witty and engaging novel that explores a range of social and cultural issues. Wells’ use of humor and satire allows her to critique societal norms and conventions in a way that is both entertaining and incisive, while her vivid depiction of early 20th century New York City provides a rich and immersive reading experience. The novel is a celebration of friendship, love, and romance, but also a powerful call for greater individual freedom and autonomy, and it remains a relevant and thought-provoking work today.

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