Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen: 05/23/20
From about 1908 through the teens, young women were the action stars of the silent screen. The most famous serial was The Perils of Pauline staring Pearl White. But there were many others.
Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen by Anne Nesbet is historical middle grade fiction set contemporaneously with Perils and is written with the enthusiasm and panache of girls adventure fiction, such as Ruth Fielding by Alice B. Emerson.
Darleen Darling has grown up on screen. In the early days of her life and of American cinema, her antics as a baby and toddler brought in the crowds. Now that she's older, she's now reinventing herself as an action star. She's part of the family business, a studio run by her father, aunt and uncle.
When the studio gets word that the Daring Darleen short will be shown at the re-opened Strand, Darleen's aunt comes up with a new direction for the serial. What if Darleen is fake kidnapped from the theater and it's all recorded on film to be the next chapter? It sounds like a good idea until it goes horribly wrong.
Darleen's fake kidnapping ends up happening at the same as a real one. She ends up kidnapped alongside the young heiress Victorine Berryman. The two girls become fast friends and work together to escape.
The escape of Darleen and Victorine is what places this novel on the road narrative spectrum. Both girls have lost at least one parent and while on their own are both orphan travelers (Darleen metaphorically, Victorine literally) (FF).
Their destination is Fort Lee, NJ. In 1914, Fort Lee was a rural piece of New Jersey, near Manhattan but still wild enough to make movies. Before Hollywood, it was one of a few East Coast locals for film studios. In this context, the destination is a rural one (33).
Darleen and Victorine's route is the labyrinth. There are attempts to harm the girls but they each have special knowledge and skills that helps protect them. Their journey, though, does help transform the life of Victorine. She ends up in a very different path than the one she started on before her adventure with Darleen. Thus, the route is the labyrinth (99).
All together, Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen is the tale of an orphan traveler going to a rural location via the labyrinth (FF3399).