Helen Dore Boylston wrote a kind of book that was quite popular in the 1940s through the 1960s--the career novel. And one of the most-written about careers was nursing. No career seemed to offer as much variety and dramatic tension as nursing--unless it was acting. Boylston's two career novel series gave a fascinating look at the life of the mid-century career girl. Plenty of excitement and romance followed both Sue Barton and Carol Page through all their endeavors.
From the back cover of Carol Plays Summer Stock:
Two Famous Young Heroines from the books of Helen Dore Boylston: Sue Barton, the lively redhead who pursues her nursing career with vim, vitality, and constant adventure. A vivid picture of a nurse's life seen through the eyes of a highly individual girl whose career is complicated, as a student, by her affection for a young intern--Dr. Bill Barry--whom Sue eventually marries.
The Sue Barton series:
Sue Barton, Student Nurse
Sue Barton, Senior Nurse
Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse
Sue Barton, Rural Nurse
Sue Barton, Superintendent of Nurses
Sue Barton, Neighborhood Nurse
Sue Barton, Staff Nurse
Carol Page, who wants to be an actress. Attractive, full of spirits, but serious underneath, Carol treads the difficult path toward a career on the stage, finding all the hardships--and thrills, too--that the theater has always provided for the girl who wants to reach the pinnacle.
The Carol Page series:
Carol Goes Backstage (1941)
Carol Plays Summer Stock (1942)
Carol on Broadway (1944)
Carol on Tour
Books by Betty Cavanna tend towards the introspective heroine who learns something about herself. Unlike many authors of fifties teen novels, Betty Cavanna did not write series books. Her books were stand-alone novels that focused on one particular girl and her ambitions, her personal journey, and, often secondarily, her love life. Cavanna created vivid, endearing characters in vibrant, memorable settings--from a Swiss boarding school to an artist's colony on Cape Cod to an Eastern horse ranch. These books contain slightly more angst and less humor than Rosamond du Jardin's, but are filled with fifties sensibility.
Beverly Cleary may be best known for her books for younger children such as the Ramona books, Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse and other children's classics, but her teen romance novels are truly classics of the genre.
Rosamond du Jardin, whose Practically Seventeen was the first book that I remember reading in this genre and her books still stand up to this day. Du Jardin wrote several memorable series, following her young heroines through high school, into college, and frequently on to marriage. Her novels mostly revolve around the romantic travails of her heroines in a humorous way and are peopled by vivid, charming characters. Du Jardin's series include the following:
The Tobey Heydon series:
Practically Seventeen (1943)
Class Ring (1951)
The Real Thing
Wedding in the Family
One of the Crowd
The Marcy Rhodes series:
Wait for Marcy (1950)
Marcy Catches Up
A Man for Marcy
The Pam and Penny Howard series:
Double Date (1951)
And, of course, Janet Lambert, whose series are so sprawling and complicated, she's get her very own page.