Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace

Betsy in Spite of HerselfInformation

GoodreadsBetsy in Spite of Herself
Series: Betsy-Tacy #6
Source: Library
Published: 1946


Sophomore year in Deep Valley means many things to Betsy Ray–the opportunity to serve as class secretary, continued attempts to charm Joe Willard away from his work, and another chance at winning the Essay Contest.  However, nothing can compare to the delight of collecting boys.  But so far the boys who congregate at Betsy’s home seem to like her only as a friend.  Can she win the dashing Phil Brandish by remaking herself as the Dramatic and Mysterious Betsye?


While Betsy in Spite of Herself continues along much the same lines as the previous book–Betsy spends her days flirting  and plotting ways to get boys to swoon over her the way they do over her older sister Julia–this installment branches out a little to illustrate the protagonist’s developing maturity.  While Betsy still considers boys the most important thing in the world, her new flirtations are not present in this story simply to show how silly Betsy sometimes can be.  Instead, they teach her that, above all, she has to be true to herself and to her own aspirations, even if that means losing a date.

I mentioned in my review of Heaven to Betsy that I had, contrary to the experiences of generations of readers, difficulty relating to Betsy and that, indeed, at times I even found her unlikable.  This book provides the same experience, at least for me.  Of course, that does not mean Betsy is not still an interesting character and one whose adventures I can enjoy following.  I read both the last book and this one with pleasure.  There was just always something missing.  If anything, I wanted more Tacy–Betsy’s old friend who does not swoon over boys and who can thus provide a relatable character for readers who find Betsy’s machinations to ensnare boys she does not even really like a bit odd, maybe even a bit manipulative.  Betsy’s romps with “the Crowd” simply do no match the pleasure that can be found in her loyal friendship with Tacy.

Fortunately, however, this book provided me hope with the future of the series.  Betsy does act very silly.  She neglects her studies and pretends to be someone she is not, all to capture the interest of a boy who owns an auto.  But the whole time readers can sense that Betsy knows she acts silly, knows that she wants to be someone else–wants to be considered smart as well as popular, wants to be known as a writer as well as a catch.  If she loses herself for a time, readers can forgive her.  What is it to be young if not to make mistakes?

Writing a review about this book thus proves a little difficult, for it really centers around a short-lived romance that could conceivably have been only an episode in a longer work.  Other things happen, of course, but the Philip Brandish plot overshadows them all, making Betsy in Spite of Herself seem a little like a bridge book.  We have seen Betsy go out with half the school in the previous book.  We have seen her realize she cares more about writing than Philip in this book.  So now the real question is how Betsy will remodel herself in the next book.  Everything in Betsy in Spite of Herself points forward.

But I am glad it does.  I grow tired of watching Betsy flirt and get bad grades when I know she is capable of so much more–and wants so much more.  It is not, I want to tell her, impossible to date and study.  I do not want to watch her throw her future away because she can never decline an invitation to a dance or a party.  I may not fully understand Betsy, but Maud Hart Lovelace has certainly still managed to make me care about her.

2 thoughts on “Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace

  1. Faye M. says:

    Betsy sounds like a riot! I honestly have not heard of this series of books before, but I’m not really that surprised since this is a classic, and god knows how much I suck at reading them. I think if I were reading this one, I’d have a very hard time connecting to Betsy. It’s just not my thing, to have girls freak out about boys and making them the center of their lives. But, hey, I guess in this installment that’s not the goal, right? I’m glad to see that Betsy matures so much here😀 There’s more to life than just boys – there’s also YOURSELF you have to take good care of, too. Respect yourself above all, that’s what my mum says.

    Faye at The Social Potato


    • Krysta says:

      That’s a good way to describe Betsy! She certainly enjoys having a good time and being the center of attention! Even though I don’t relate to Besty, I can still enjoy reading about her. I particularly like her relationships with her female friends and her relationship with her older sister, whom she used to hate being around but who now proves a very handy person to have in moments of emotional crisis. I can’t wait to see the end of Betsy’s character arc, when hopefully she’ll have decided what she really wants of out of life and commits herself to getting it.


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