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Arizona is another of a large number of Clarence Budington Kelland novels I rescued from being tossed out in 2003. I have been slowly reading and releasing them, although this one I plan to to keep for a number of reasons. I finally got around to reading it for the "Books to Movies" challenge.
Arizona was published in 1939 and then adapted to film in 1940. In the film version, Phoebe Titus gradually embraces her femininity when she falls in love for Peter Muncie, a man who can't decide whether he should set down his roots in Arizona or California. As I hate with a passion stories where a woman changes drastically to win her man's love, I was dreading a bit this book. I was afraid I would finally have found a book by Kelland that I didn't like.
I was wrong and foolish. The film may have fallen into Hays code era cliches, but Kelland's Phoebe Titus stays true to her name (Phoebe was the moon titan in Greek mythology). This Phoebe is a titan in the early days of Tucson. Although she does slowly fall in love with Peter Muncie (there is always an element of romance in Kelland's books), she does not turn into a girlie-girl just to win his affections. In fact, he respects and loves her for her strength and stubbornness.
There's a scene right about the middle of the novel where bandits break into Phoebe's ranch, tie her up, threaten her life and rob her life's savings of $15,000. I cringed, expecting this to be the chance for Peter Muncie to return and rescue his now damsel in distress girl friend. But he doesn't! He arrives late. She has to survive on her own wits and strength. Does this robbery change her mind from being a rancher in lawless Tucson? No. She changes her tactics slightly but she continues pressing on to make a living in a city she loves. Phoebe manages to stay true to herself and still find love and start a family (because she wants to, not because she feels she has to.)
Once again Kelland has delighted me with a novel full of realistic and interesting characters. The copy I read needs to be rebound before it will be strong enough to be released in the wild. For that reason and because I do want to keep a couple Kelland books for my own collection, I will be holding onto Arizona for the time being.
I've added this to the Book to Movie listing."