In the first half of the book, Pollyanna is sent to stay with Mrs Ruth Carew, a lady in deep depression because her beloved little nephew was taken away by his eccentric father. Even though her brother-in-law has passed away, little Jamie’s whereabouts are still unknown. These days he’d be on the missing person files. Ruth can’t bear not knowing whether he’s suffering, or even dead.
There in Boston, Pollyanna continues her tradition of helping people transform their lives, including Jamie, a crippled boy in a wheelchair, who might even turn out to be Mrs Carew’s lost nephew. Although Jamie plays his own version of Pollyanna’s ‘Game’, he’s not as good at it as she is. Possibly because he seems to have the typecast despondent, creative temperament of a literary author.
In the second half, Pollyanna is in her early twenties. Jamie and Jimmy have grown up too, of course, so there is plenty of romance in the air. Aunt Polly is now a widow, and back to her crabby old self. All sorts of lovers’ tangles and mix-ups take place. There were so many, “So-and-so is madly in love with So-and-So’s” which were way off track, while it’s probably clear to every reader how the three couples are going to end up being paired off.
Pollyanna turns out to be a very dutiful girl, who will defer to her elders when it comes to choosing a spouse. It’s a dated outlook (thankfully), which I doubt modern young readers would go for or understand. She ends up with the man her heart chooses, but only after clearing it with Aunt Polly, then Uncle John first! It wasn’t easy.
There are a few loose ends, which tighter, more modern editing might have addressed. When the identity of Ruth’s nephew is finally revealed, nobody seems to think of telling her sister, Della the nurse, who surely deserved to know the truth as much as Ruth. It bothered me that she wasn’t on the very small list of people who would learn the secret.
Still, it was a very enjoyable read and I was glad Pollyanna ended up with the guy who was perfect for her, which says a lot for him, as Pollyanna is such a super-heroine. If I’d been Pollyanna, I would have been tempted to rub it in with Aunt Polly. But being Pollyanna, and being a wholesome nineteenth century plot, she found a way to please her aunt and get her man at the same time.