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The Princess Passes

The Princess Passes by Charles Norris Williamson
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An American heiress nicknamed the Manitou Princess (after her daddy’s richest silver mine) is devastated to find that her fiancé only loves her money, so she does what anyone might do: she bolts for Europe, dons male attire and sets out on a walking tour of the Alps, passing as a teenage boy. Though professing hatred of all men, she soon falls in with a just-jilted English lord, aptly named Monty Lane, who is attempting to walk off a broken heart of his own. The Princess Passes presents the ups and downs of their alpine relationship through the unpenetrating eyes of Lord Lane. Why, he wonders, is he thus drawn to this beautiful youth? And has the boy a sister?

Co-author Alice Livingston, of Poughkeepsie, New York, mentions in her memoirs that she sailed for Europe after a boyfriend tried to shoot her. In London she met literary editor Charles Williamson and began writing for the story magazines of media mogul Lord Northcliffe. At one point she found herself scribbling six serials simultaneously, on the income from which she and Williamson married. She later spun some of her husband’s detailed descriptive notes made during their motor-trips abroad into a string of bestselling novels involving automobiling, then a novelty.

The central romantic action of The Princess Passes recalls comic situations of Shakespeare’s cross-dressing heroines and is bookended by automobile-themed sequences as the narrator and friends (hero & heroine of the Williamsons’ first novel, The Lightning Conductor) motor south through the magnificent, peaceful mountain passes of pre-World War I Europe.


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