Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Secrets of Loveliness

This charming book was a Scholastic Book Selection when I was in grammar school.  Every month our teacher passed out flyers for wonderful paperback books which students could order for only a few cents.  I recall four books costing about a dollar.  I loved when the mailman delivered my little parcel of books. When Secrets of Loveliness appeared on the Scholastic flyer, and being a "tween" anxious to learn the womanly arts I ascribed to my friends' sophisticated older sisters, I simply had to have it.

Kay Thomas, the author, has a friendly girlfriend to girlfriend way of writing.  Her prose is lyrical, funny, and inspiring.  What I really love is the message that although beauty is not given to all girls, loveliness can be achieved by anyone.  Miss Thomas talks about both the inner and outer self and how achieving balance between the two, can bring about grace and charm.

The book gives practical advice, with an unmistakable girly slant.  We learn that it is ok to want to be attractive and lovely and what is more, it's really fun too.  Every aspect of grooming is touched upon:  from how to keep a neat "billfold" to how to select the proper slip for a party dress.  Yes, it's a bit dated, perhaps not entirely PC, but it's very sweet. 

The line drawings are delightfully done by illustrator John Mecray, who also contributed to the Eileen Ford Book of Beauty and a teen novel or two.  After an internet search, I discovered Mecray is a famous marine illustrator who lives just over the bridge from me in our small coastal state!  He left fashion illustrating far behind and now only devotes his talent to ships and schooners.  In Secrets of Loveliness he has a deft touch with a pulse on mid-century femininity and therefore, I find his soft drawings both engaging and reassuring.

For fun, I've chosen a contemporary cover picture for a modern edition.  Should another version come to pass, I would keep Kay Thomas and John Mecray on board.

"This book has been written to help you become the girl you want to be - with grace of form and feature, with radiance of soul and mind". ~ Kay Thomas
(Credits:  pic from Nordstrom.com, illustration John Mecray.)


  1. Hi Donna, this book looks wonderful! I love books like this.

  2. You know how much I love this one, Donna...I read it quite often as I find the wisdom charming and reassuring. Thanks for sharing this and for reminding me it's just about time for me to read it again! Love, K

  3. Donna, thanks to your post I ordered this book from Abe Books and have just received it. I'm really looking forward to reading - it looks so cute!

  4. Dear Fiona, I'll be surprised if you don't love it's feminine advice. Plus it's all about beauty done at home!