Peattie, Louise Redfield
PEATTIE, Louise Redfield
Born 14 June 1900, Northern Illinois
Daughter of Robert and Bertha Dreier Redfield; married Donald C. Peattie, 1923; children: three sons and a daughter, who died young
Louise Redfield Peattie's father was a prominent corporate lawyer, and her mother was the daughter of the Danish consul in Chicago. They gave Peattie a very happy childhood, much of it spent on the extensive farm where she was born—an estate established by Peattie's ancestors several generations back. Peattie was educated by tutors and in private schools in Chicago, and her marriage to the naturalist-writer Donald C. Peattie was a very happy one, although the couple's only daughter died young. They also had three sons.
The family has lived in various places: Washington, D.C.; Provence and the French Riviera; Peattie's childhood home; and Tryon, North Carolina. They finally settled in Santa Barbara, California. Each place has given Peattie colorful settings for the fiction she began to write shortly after her marriage. With her husband's generous encouragement and cooperation, she became a prolific author. At times they collaborated on books, but most of Peattie's writing has been on her own.
Peattie summed up her life work in these words: "Grateful for the opportunity to combine a career with family life, it has been my endeavor that my family shall profit, never suffer, from my occupation with writing. My greatest pride is in the share I am privileged to have in my husband's writing; this is the first of my interests. All that I asked of life in the first hope of youth has been fulfilled; I ask now only the opportunity to complete fully what we have begun together."
Peattie's fiction is almost invariably concerned with the problems of male-female relationships and those of parents and children. Reviewers have praised the breadth of her insight into the inner lives of men and women and her sense of the comic as well as the pathetic. Peattie's poetic prose has pleased many critics, and her delicate sentiment usually manages to escape sentimentality.
Not all readers agree Peattie's work is entirely devoid of oversweetness, and some critics have objected to the "thinness" of some of her stories. The style of Peattie's later books often comes perilously close to being precious and affected.
A Child in Her Arms (1938) shows what happens when a beautiful, barren woman longing for a child meets a beautiful pregnant girl who eventually gives birth to a perfect baby. The first woman is wealthy and educated, with a husband who wants only her happiness; the second is the "earth mother" type, almost a symbol of maternity, with no family and no place to go. Star at Noon (1939) tells of the oddly assorted members of a family coming together, puzzled and wondering about their tangled relationships: a man and his second wife, his second wife's son, his first wife, and his daughter.
The problems of these plots are beautifully smoothed out to leave the reader satisfied that human affairs can always be resolved, although not without emotional turmoil and soul-searching. Of one of Peattie's books a critic says, "It leaves the impact of a bigger and better story than it is, perhaps; but nevertheless it is a crisp, economical job of writing that makes for entertaining reading."
Although Peattie's work can certainly not be called great realistic fiction, it cannot be considered mere "light romance." Serious purpose is at the core of each novel and story.
Bounty of Earth (with D. C. Peattie, 1927). Dagny (1928). Up Country (with D. C. Peattie, 1928). Down Wind (with D. C. Peattie, 1929). Pan's Parish (1931). Wine with a Stranger (1932). Wife to Caliban (1934). Fugitive (1935). American Acres (1936). Tomorrow Is Ours (1937). Lost Daughter (1938). The Californians (1940). Ring Finger (1943).
Boston Evening Transcript (13 April 1935). NYT (23 Aug. 1936, 20 March 1938, 26 March 1939, 10 March 1940).
—ABIGAIL ANN HAMBLEN