Clark, Mary Higgins: While My Pretty One Sleeps
(researched by Dorothy Eubanks)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Mary Higgins Clark. While My Pretty One Sleeps. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989. Copyright: 1989 by Mary Higgins Clark
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First American Edition published in trade cloth binding with dust jacket
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
160 leaves, pp. [8] 9-318 [2]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
This book is not edited or introduced but it does include an advertisement for seven other novels written by Mary Higgins Clark. It is dedicated to author's "newest grandchildren, Courtney Marilyn Clark and David Frederick Clark, with continuing love, amusement and delight."
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The book is extremely well printed without any smudges. It is reasonably easy to read, as the margins are fairly large. The top and side margins are one inch and the bottom margin is one and a half inch. Numbers, but not titles, indicate the chapters. The spine (and approximately one inch of the front and back covers) is bound in navy blue cloth while the rest of the covers are slate blue in color. On the spine, the title of the book appears along with the author's name underneath, both in capital letters and stamped in silver lettering. The publisher's name appears at the bottom of the spine. Typography: 110R. booksize: 240mm x 160 mm and text size: 160mm x 110mm
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is fairly thick and unfinished, not glossy. It is off white, with slight yellowing of pages but still remaining in great condition. There are no rips or tears and it is the same paper stock throughout. No typography description is found on verso of title page
11 Description of binding(s)
Binding is bluish cloth with dotted line grain. The endpaper is plain and of the same gray color as the front cover. The transcription on the spine reads: WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS| MARY HIGGINS CLARK and Simon and Schuster appears in bottom corner. There is no transcription on front or back cover.
12 Transcription of title page
Title is centered along left margin: WHILE| MY| PRETTY| ONE| SLEEPS| A Novel by| MARY| HIGGINS| CLARK|. Verso: SIMON & SCHUSTER| New York London Toronto Sydney| Tokyo
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Could not locate manuscript holdings
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Other: On Dust Jacket, there is a synopsis of book on front inside flap continuing to rear flap. Following is a note on the author, listing four of her novels and a little information on her background, growing up in New York and graduating Fordham University. The jacket was designed by Jackie Seow- Pracher and illustrated by Rick Lovell. The author's portrait on the rear of the dust jacket was photographed by Deborah Feingold. Other copies printed in 1989: Published by Michel Albin in Paris. Published by Pocketbooks in Pittsburgh, PA by Bower Hill Braillists Foundation in Braille. Published in Simon & Schuster in large print. Published by Century and found in British National Bibliography. Recording published by Simon & Schuster Audioworks in New York, NY;narrated by Jessica Walter. Recording published by Books on Tape in Newport Beach, CA
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Other editions by Simon and Schuster include: 1. Large print edition in 1989: New York. 2. Book Club Edition in 1989: New York, NY; 220 p., 22 cm. 3. Large Print, Book Club Edition in 1989: New York, NY; 439 p., 22 cm. 4. Recording on 2 cassettes:analog. 1 7/8 ips, stereo, Dolby processed by Simon and Schuster Audioworks in New York, NY. 1989. Read by Jessica Walter and abridged by Judith Benenson. 5. A second recording of While My Pretty One Sleeps in combination with Mary Higgins Clark's Weep No More My Lady published in New York by Simon and Schuster Audioworks in 1989. 4 Sound Cassettes: analog, Dolby Processed. Read by Jessica Walter.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
The number of printings or impressions of the first edition could not be deduced from the information provided in Publishers' Weekly or Hackett's 80 Years of Bestsellers.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Other editions include: 1. Pocket Books, 1989 (Braille, in Pittsburgh, PA by the Bower Hill Braillists Foundation) 2. Pocket Books, 1990 (Braille in Pittsburgh, PA by the Bower Hill Braillists Foundation) 3. Reader's Digest Association, 1989 (Reader's Digest Condensed Books,Volume 4, in Pleasantville, NY) 4. Thorndike- Magna, 1990, 1989 (Large Print, in Thorndike, Me) Cover reads "Thorndike-Magna Large Print"; 395 p 5. Buccaneer Books, 1989 in Cutchogue, NY 6. Century, 1989 7. Pocket Books, 1990, 1989 in New York, NY; 318 p., 23 cm 8. Pocket Books, 1990, 1989 in New York, NY; 318 p., 17 cm 9. Arrow, 1991, 1990, 1989 10. Cresset, 1993 (Mary Higgins Clark- Three Novels in One Volume in London)
6 Last date in print?
The novel is still in print as of 2000.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
On the New York Times Fiction List, the novel debuted on May 14, 1989 at the #8 position and peaked on May 28, 1989 at #1 for two weeks. It remained on the list for a total of 21 weeks. On Publishers' Weekly Hardcover Edition Fiction List, it debuted on May 26, 1989 at the #3 position and peaked on June 2, 1989 at #1 for two weeks. It remained on the list for a total of twenty weeks. (cost of book- $19.95) On the New York Times paperback bestselling list (printed by Pocket), it debuted July 7, 1990 at #3 and peaked on July 8, 1990 at #1 for two weeks. It remaining on the list for eleven weeks total. On the Publishers' Weekly mass market paperback list, it debuted on July 11,1990 at #3 and peaked July 13,1990 at #1 for two weeks. It remained on list for twelve weeks. It was titled a bestseller for a total of sixty-four weeks.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
This information was not available.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Ad under Simon & Schuster Audioworks in Publishers' Weekly reading: "The Audio division of Simon & Schuster will highlight the following summer and fall releases: While My Pretty One Sleeps, by Mary Higgins Clark". Under Audio Reviews of Publishers' Weekly in the Fiction Section is a review of While My Pretty One Sleeps published by Simon & Schuster Audioworks on two cassettes. The bottom of the synopsis reads "simultaneous release with the Simon & Schuster hardcover (June)."
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
No other promotions were found besides a double page spread in Publisher's Weekly on the biography of the author with mention of the novel.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Performances in other media include: 1. Audio recording by Simon & Schuster Audioworks, 1989. 4 sound cassettes (ca. 6 hours); analog, Dolby processed; read by Jessica Walter. 2. Audio recording Library Edition by Books On Tape, 1989 in Newport Beach, CA. 6 sound cassettes; analog, 1 7/8 ips. 3. Audio recording Special Library Edition by Books On Tape, 1990. 4. Audio recording by Simon & Schuster, 1992 in New York, NY; 4 cassettes; analog, Dolby processed.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Translations include: 1. Dors ma jolie: roman (French) published 1989 by Michel Albin: Paris. 2. Mientras mi preciosa duerme (Spanish) 1a ed. Published 1990 by Plaza & Janes Editores: Barcelona. 3. Mientras mi preciosa duerme (Spanish) 2a ed. Published 1997, 1992, 1990 by Plaza & Janes: Barcelona. 4. Mientras mi amada duerme published 1990 by Lasser Press Mexicana: Mexico, D.F. 5. Mientras mi preciosa duerme published 1991 by Circulo de Lectores: Barcelona. 6. Mientra [e.g. Mientras] mi preciosa duerme published 1997 by Plaza & Janes: Barcelona; 270 p., 18 cm. 7. Mientras mi preciosa duerme Published 1998, 1995 by Plaza & Janes:Barcelona. 8. Mientras mi preciosa duerme 7a ed. Published 1998 by Plaza & Janes: Barcelona. 9. No cruces el parque published 1998, 1990 by Emece: Buenos Aires; 326p., 20 cm. 10. Chih jang t'a chih tao (Chinese) Ti 1 ed. Published 1990 by Hsiao shuo tsu tsa chih she: His tai shuh pan fa hsing: T'ai-pei shih. 11. Itoshii hitono nemuru mani (Japanese) published 1990: Tokyo; 438p., 16 cm. 12. Ka'asher yafati yeshenah (Hebrew) published 1990 by Or'am: Tel Aviv. 13. Schlaf wohl, mein susses kind: Roman published 1990 by Scherz: Bern [etc]. 14. Schlaf wohl, mein susses kind: Roman published 1990 by Wilhelm Heyne: Munchen; 314p., 18 cm. 15. Shlaf wohl, mein susses kind: Roman (German) Large Print Edition published 1993 by Edition Richarz: Niemeyer: Hameln, Germany; 407p., 24 cm. 16. Pimil ui chaek (Korean) published 1993 by Yeha: Soul-si; 314p., 23 cm. 17. Mentre la mia piccola dorme (Italian) 1st ed. Sperling paperback Series: Superbestseller published 1994: Milano; 331p.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
There was no information found to indicate the novel was serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There are no sequels or prequels to this novel.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
For an overview of Mary Higgins Clark, see the entry on All Around the Town. Mary Higgins Clark is also known as Mrs. John Conheeney. In her beginning years as an author, Mary Higgins Clark did not see much success. Over six years, she attempted to sell her first story and saw it rejected forty times and selling for only $100 in the end. After a second failure of a romantic biography on George Washington (she recently paid $13 for a copy of it from a book-hunting company and it turned out to be an autographed copy she had given to her old boss, according to Publishers' Weekly), she decided to give suspense novels a try. She eventually became one of the highest paid authors in America and thirty million copies of her fifteen titles are still in print today. While My Pretty One Sleeps was Mary Higgins Clark's seventh suspense novel. It was the first book of her record-breaking $11.4 million dollar contract with Simon & Schuster. The contract was easily negotiated, as Mary Higgins Clark was well-loved by the editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, Michael Korda, and her previous novels had already brought her into the million dollar league. It was not a "rags to riches scenario" and there was not any "jousting nor glibness" on the part of her agent, Gene Winick (PW, Volume 235). The contract called for four novels and a short story collection, which is now known as "The Anastasia Syndrome". This was the first eight-figure deal for her agent, who claimed the impressive amount was "a reflection of Mary Higgins Clark, who she is, and what her sales have been." The author herself anticipated nothing but pleasure to come from signing the contract and even hoped it might encourage her "to write faster" (Publishers' Weekly). The release of While My Pretty One Sleeps was thought to increase the author's success even more, with more than 15 million of her books in print in the U.S. at the time of its release. While My Pretty One Sleeps was chosen, along with Anastasia Syndrome and the other coming novels, as the main selections by the Literary Guild. This nomination is important because although it may appear risky, it shows the confidence in the assured success of Mary Higgins Clark's books. While her first six novels were re-printed by Dell Paperbacks, beginning with While My Pretty One Sleeps, her novels were re-printed by PocketBooks. However, she shows extreme loyalty to her liaison with Simon & Schuster, saying she believes "in dancing with the guy who brung you" and implies she will never leave them (Publishers' Weekly). While My Pretty One Sleeps is simply one novel in the sequence of many. Her writing routines have varied little from novel to novel. She arose early, beginning at 6 a.m. to develop this novel and followed the fluid pattern she uses for all her books, starting with the phrase "Once Upon a Time". Most of them, as While My Pretty One Sleeps does, occur in only a few days although they took a year to write. She verifies every detail of her stories to make sure they prove accurate, going so far as "driving around Georgetown and Washington, to check streets, to confirm the lapse of time to go between one place and another" (Publishers' Weekly). Upon finishing Pretty One, she was already developing the plot of her next novel, Loves Music, Loves to Dance. At the same time, she also participated in a book- launching tour, hitting twelve cities and, in each city, locating the Catholic Church that brought her such "great comfort" (Publishers' Weekly). She often includes details from the lives of her friends and family, and from her own life. For example, she borrowed the home of her close family friends for the setting of Stillwatch. In While My Pretty One Sleeps, the reader sees Clark's exquisite fashion sense. The heroine owns a boutique on chic Madison Avenue and all of Clark's details are accurate thanks to the influences of her mother. Her mother was a buyer for B. Altman and her aunt was for McCreery's; all her life Clark heard of fashion and developed a taste for style. Her desire for everything to be realistic (seen in her dedication to verifying the time lapses) is also seen in the research that she includes in her novels. She researches the psychological disorders of her characters and makes them fit the profile of the disorder. Characters that should show psychological symptoms of their psychoses DO exhibit the characteristic behavior for the disease they have. In one of her novels the character of questionable sanity suffered from a disorder that affects single, middle-aged white men and most are extremely organized. Clark's character was a white, forty year old school teacher who lived alone and kept his home in the neatest order. At the time While My Pretty One Sleeps released, Mary Higgins Clark had been President of Mystery Writers of America, was attending MWA meetings, had been Chairman of International Crime Writers Congress, and was active as a literary volunteer, frequently speaking and writing for their cause. With nine other authors, she wrote "The Case of the Caribbean Blues" and gave the $10,000 profit to the cause. She was active in the Society of Magazine Writers & Journalists, which encouraged her re-acquaintance with the short story, and also in the American Irish Historical Society, supporting her Irish heritage. Her lineage evidences itself in many aspects of her life; she claims her story- telling ability comes from an Irish heritage of oral tradition and the bar in her apartment is "[her] Irish pub, here to honor [her] father" (Publishers' Weekly). Mary Higgins Clark has gained respect and admiration from all of her co-workers. Her agent claims Mary Higgins Clark is as courageous as the heroines she invents, "able to prevail over adversity in a positive, wholesome way" (PW). Perhaps that is why all of her books include a clever, resilient female protagonist that triumphs over evil with the hand of a strong male. Clark professes she will continue to write and shows no indication of quitting any time soon. "Long after I've passed from public interest?I'll still be writing" (PW).
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Contemporary Reception of While My Pretty One Sleeps proves to be a fair mix of respect for the suspense it creates and contempt for its lack of literary merit. Clark successfully produces the mystery and suspense she is famous for but fails to produce anything else. Many critics in their reviews place it second best to her other novels, particularly Where Are the Children? Whatever their personal opinion is on the literary value of the novel, there is unanimous agreement on the certainty of its selling success. While My Pretty One Sleeps draws its unwavering support mainly from Clark's faithful fans and from her publisher. In the reader reviews of both New York Times Book Review and amazon.com, the novel was given an average of four and a half stars, and in some cases a full five star rating. It is praised "Intriging and Suspenseful! You never know who it is until the end" and "Intriguing! This book was wonderful. Mary keeps you guessing until the very end" (NYTimes.com). Another reader that gave it five stars claims, "Every time I read one of Clark's books, I think I have finally figured out her formula. But?every single time she stumps me. She is truly the master of suspense" (Amazon.com). Many of the reviews praise Clark for her ability to build suspense, congratulating her on this novel as a nice addition to her past success; it "adds to the proof of Mary Higgins Clark's great writing talent" (Amazon.com). Even the publisher, Simon & Schuster notes it as one "in the tradition of Mary Higgin's Clark's staggering bestsellers" (Amazon.com). While the reviews do compliment her writing, its praises are not bold and passionate. Throughout the positive reviews the novel is repeatedly described as a "great book", "packed with mystery and suspense", "suspenseful", and "excellent if you're looking for suspense." Publishers' Weekly touches on this same lack of flare in the plot itself; "The finale is an absolute marvel of invention, raising the impact of the somewhat shallow story" (March 31,1989). Suspense and an ingenious ending seem to be one of the only attributes going for it. The critics are not naïve to the fact that the suspense will sell. Publishers' Weekly admits, "Clark's latest will no doubt join its predecessors on bestseller list, although it does not equal the suspense of her classic Where Are the Children?" (March 31, 1989). They may not praise the book as anything but her run-of-the-mill suspense novel but they do recognize the probability of its smashing success. Not only does it hold its own as a mystery novel but it is one in a sequence of many successful novels by Clark. Booklist says it is "not the best of Clark's thrillers, but certain to be of interest to her widespread audience" and Journal: America acknowledges "Ms. Clark's fans will snatch it up as soon as it appears in the bookstores and will then set aside enough time to read it in one gulp" (April 1, 1989, CA). Armchair Detective disapprovingly claims Clark's novels are "slick packages of mild suspense" with While My Pretty One Sleeps as no exception; "Clark may have left reality a bit behind in this tale set in the 'glittering palaces of New York's rich and beautiful'" (Spring 1990). The novel is admired for the intensity of its suspense and criticized for its lack of literary skill. Reviews of the novel recorded on Audiotape reflect the same sentiments. Once again, the readers are faithful supporters of the piece. "Jess Walter's reading fits the material perfectly?She gives a full-voiced reading, making each character stand out. Considering the large cast of characters, the abridgment is easy to follow" (New York Times.com). The critics offer a similarly cynical review of the tape as well as the writing itself; "Higgins constructs her plot with an odd kind of savvy logic" and an "accordingly saucy reading, by actress Walter, depicts with relish Higgin's bitchy little world of insiders" (Publishers' Weekly, June 2, 1989). Contemporary reviews suggest an appreciation of Mary Higgins Clark, by her readers as a master of suspense, and by her critics as an author of bestsellers. While some appreciate her work and others criticize it, no one claims its merit as a enlightening, revolutionizing piece of literature. If it is to be appreciated, it must be appreciated for its sheer entertainment. Reviews: Belles Lettres: Volume 4, Summer 1989. Booklist: Volume 85, April 1, 1989. Books: Volume 3, September 3, 1989. Inside Books: June, 1989. Kirkus Reviews: Volume 57, March 15, 1989. L.A. Times Book Review: May 14, 1989. July 8, 1990. New York Times Book Review: Volume 94, June 18, 1989. Publihers' Weekly: Volume 235, March 31, 1989. June 2, 1989. May 19, 1989. Armchair Detective: Volume 23, Spring, 1990. Summer, 1990. Reader's Digest: Volume 135, December, 1989. Modern Maturity: Volume 32, August/September, 1989
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Contemporary Reception of While My Pretty One Sleeps proves to be a fair mix of respect for the suspense it creates and contempt for its lack of literary merit. Clark successfully produces the mystery and suspense she is famous for but fails to produce anything else. Many critics in their reviews place it second best to her other novels, particularly Where Are the Children? Whatever their personal opinion is on the literary value of the novel, there is unanimous agreement on the certainty of its selling success. While My Pretty One Sleeps draws its unwavering support mainly from Clark's faithful fans and from her publisher. In the reader reviews of both New York Times Book Review and amazon.com, the novel was given an average of four and a half stars, and in some cases a full five star rating. It is praised "Intriging and Suspenseful! You never know who it is until the end" and "Intriguing! This book was wonderful. Mary keeps you guessing until the very end" (NYTimes.com). Another reader that gave it five stars claims, "Every time I read one of Clark's books, I think I have finally figured out her formula. But?every single time she stumps me. She is truly the master of suspense" (Amazon.com). Many of the reviews praise Clark for her ability to build suspense, congratulating her on this novel as a nice addition to her past success; it "adds to the proof of Mary Higgins Clark's great writing talent" (Amazon.com). Even the publisher, Simon & Schuster notes it as one "in the tradition of Mary Higgin's Clark's staggering bestsellers" (Amazon.com). While the reviews do compliment her writing, its praises are not bold and passionate. Throughout the positive reviews the novel is repeatedly described as a "great book", "packed with mystery and suspense", "suspenseful", and "excellent if you're looking for suspense." Publishers' Weekly touches on this same lack of flare in the plot itself; "The finale is an absolute marvel of invention, raising the impact of the somewhat shallow story" (March 31,1989). Suspense and an ingenious ending seem to be one of the only attributes going for it. The critics are not naïve to the fact that the suspense will sell. Publishers' Weekly admits, "Clark's latest will no doubt join its predecessors on bestseller list, although it does not equal the suspense of her classic Where Are the Children?" (March 31, 1989). They may not praise the book as anything but her run-of-the-mill suspense novel but they do recognize the probability of its smashing success. Not only does it hold its own as a mystery novel but it is one in a sequence of many successful novels by Clark. Booklist says it is "not the best of Clark's thrillers, but certain to be of interest to her widespread audience" and Journal: America acknowledges "Ms. Clark's fans will snatch it up as soon as it appears in the bookstores and will then set aside enough time to read it in one gulp" (April 1, 1989, CA). Armchair Detective disapprovingly claims Clark's novels are "slick packages of mild suspense" with While My Pretty One Sleeps as no exception; "Clark may have left reality a bit behind in this tale set in the 'glittering palaces of New York's rich and beautiful'" (Spring 1990). The novel is admired for the intensity of its suspense and criticized for its lack of literary skill. Reviews of the novel recorded on Audiotape reflect the same sentiments. Once again, the readers are faithful supporters of the piece. "Jess Walter's reading fits the material perfectly?She gives a full-voiced reading, making each character stand out. Considering the large cast of characters, the abridgment is easy to follow" (New York Times.com). The critics offer a similarly cynical review of the tape as well as the writing itself; "Higgins constructs her plot with an odd kind of savvy logic" and an "accordingly saucy reading, by actress Walter, depicts with relish Higgin's bitchy little world of insiders" (Publishers' Weekly, June 2, 1989). Contemporary reviews suggest an appreciation of Mary Higgins Clark, by her readers as a master of suspense, and by her critics as an author of bestsellers. While some appreciate her work and others criticize it, no one claims its merit as a enlightening, revolutionizing piece of literature. If it is to be appreciated, it must be appreciated for its sheer entertainment. Reviews: Belles Lettres: Volume 4, Summer 1989. Booklist: Volume 85, April 1, 1989. Books: Volume 3, September 3, 1989. Inside Books: June, 1989. Kirkus Reviews: Volume 57, March 15, 1989. L.A. Times Book Review: May 14, 1989. July 8, 1990. New York Times Book Review: Volume 94, June 18, 1989. Publihers' Weekly: Volume 235, March 31, 1989. June 2, 1989. May 19, 1989. Armchair Detective: Volume 23, Spring, 1990. Summer, 1990. Reader's Digest: Volume 135, December, 1989. Modern Maturity: Volume 32, August/September, 1989
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
While My Pretty One Sleeps is the eight novel in Mary Higgins Clark's succession of suspense. Each novel follows the same formulaic pattern; she begins writing the novel with the phrase "once upon a time" and develops her plot from there. Each best-selling novel includes a strong, clever woman who is the key crime- solver in a seemingly normal, ordinary situation gone awry. Her settings are not extra-ordinary; her heroine is not an evil person seeking trouble. Instead, she is an innocent victim of viscous evil, which she ultimately triumphs. While Clark is an expert at hiding evil in the last place the reader would imagine, her novels are predictable; goodness prevails over evil, and every novel follows that same rule. Her formula is obviously very successful; she is "one of the highest paid authors in America after twelve novels and five television and film adaptations later" (Contemporary Popular Writers). Clark is an expert entertainer. She knows what the readers want, she figured out how to make a best seller, and she does it time after time. Clark is truly a writer of the eighties. The movies produced in the eighties are guilty of the same thing Clark is. They were made to do "what every movie has set out to do?make money. The 1980's is referred to as "the Decade of Greed" by historians" (80s.com). Clark is a perpetuator of "The Decade of Greed". In trying to make money she designs an extremely entertaining plot full of suspense but includes the trends and details pertinent to the lives of her readers. Her story centers around "the glittering palaces of New York City" because it provided a fascinating setting that her readers were interested in. Throughout her book, Clark matches the details of her story with the details of the decade. Two of Clark's main characters, one the heroine, are the intelligent, rising career women cropping up in the eighties; the Mafia, prominent in New York society plays a major role in the plot; other top-selling entertainment of the eighties reflect similar trends in Clark's story; the economics of the time supported the society Clark investigates. She investigates all details in her books, like distances between streets to make sure the time lapse is viable and researching the psychological symptoms of her killers, and the "imaginary" society, which frames her story, is no exception. Clark claims "a good suspense novel should hold a mirror up to society" and as an author of many best-selling suspense novels, she succeeds in doing so (Contemporary Authors). The high-fluting New York society Clark picks as a setting was on the rise in the eighties. With Ronald Reagan in office, and under new economical reforms coined "Reaganomics", abundant wealth flowed for the rich. There was a 25% tax cut, household incomes increased by $4,000 resting at $42, 049 in 1989, and the savings rate rapidly fell (Cato Policy Analysis). The economy grew by a healthy rate of 3.8% and the Economic growth per Working Age adult grew with it. The elegant cocktail parties Clark sets up, the rich fashion she copiously describes, and the luxurious interior decorations would all have been an element of life at the time. Madison Avenue and chic designers would catch the eye of the reader. Clark admits she likes to dress her characters nicely because the readers like it. The wealth of the economy at the time would allow for the fashion industry to be as large and booming as Clark relays it. Ethel Lambston and Neeve Kearny, Clark's fictional characters, are both self-sufficient, extremely successful businesswomen. Ethel Lambston herself was very well known for her intelligence. She was a "famous gossip writer" who cleverly investigated the fashion industry and came up with "a bombshell. TNT" that would expose the leading players in the world of style. It was her clever-ness and wit that lured her into trouble. She had received "The Magazine Award of the Year from the American Society of Journalists and Authors? and at the side of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson?at the Waldorf with the mayor" and was quite worthy of her achievements (page 70). Neeve Kearny, at twenty-six, was the owner and buyer for her own "sensationally successful boutique" on the fashionable Madison Avenue in New York. Throughout the rich and glitzy society of New York's fashion industry, "Neeve's Place", and Neeve herself, are "well-liked, well respected" and famous for their renowned sense of style. For her special customers, Neeve coordinates outfits and prepares lists, Outfit A with Jewelry Box B, with Shoebox C. "Ever since [Neeve] starting dressing her, people keep commenting on [her] clothes?[she] loves it" (page 74). She sells "red cashmere coachman coats The Burberry. The herringbone cape?The Donna Karans, the Beenes, the Ultra-suedes" (74). Clark never fails to drop the names of real, authentic designers the reader will recognize. Neeve prides herself on being "written up in Vogue, Town and Country, The New York Times and God know where else" (page 113). Not only is she an entrepreneur, Neeve is also the key detective. Interestingly, Clark allows only the women to make the big discoveries in this novel, commenting on the changing image of women being just as intelligent as men. She assigns them important careers AND makes them the clever investigators. The policemen and other male figures in the novel seem to sit back while the females are the productive crime-solvers. Neeve is the very first person to suspect foul play in Ethel's disappearance. After looking in Ethel's' closet, she noticed her coats were all there. Trying to convince her doubting father of foul play, Neeve says she "knows Ethel's wardrobe like the back of [her] hand. She vanished on Thursday or Friday in bitterly cold weather without a coat?" (91-2). Neeve continues her own private investigation and discover more clues than the entire New York police force. Neeve is solely responsible for the unraveling of the mystery throughout the very end. A couple of years prior to the writing of her book, many women organizations, like the Wilmington Women in Business and the National Women's History Project, were established to "create the opportunity for recognition of achievement and potential of the business and professional women" (wwb.org). Mary Higgins Clark recognizes the achievements of women in the professional sphere in her own way by including them in her book. Perhaps this support and recognition of women's accomplishments, especially the literary accomplishments of Ethel Lambston, is a reflection of the author's own life as a literary success. Another reason Clark's novel is important to recognize is her inclusion of the mafia as key elements of society. Throughout history, beginning at the Prohibition, there has been a fascination with mobsters and Clark includes their present day fascination. In the mid-eighties, the mafia was becoming a little less enigmatic and more understandable. As investigators trailed them, more and more knowledge about their business was discovered. There were many busts and therefore, more attention on their dealings. Throughout the novel, Clark brings in mobsters and plants "plenty of mob money being laundered through the fashion industry" (page 242). In 1985, 135 people in the United States were indicted in Chicago as part of a major heroin trafficking ring from Mexico. In the early 1980's, the leading mobster family of La Costra Notra instigated the importation of heroin worth over $1.6 billion. This operation, known as the "Pizza Connection" because it used pizza parlors throughout the country as a façade to hide their smuggling, is known as one of the largest networks in history. The main activity was centered in New York, the head of the operation named as the Bonanno organized crime family. Clark obviously researched this part of New York society and used it to spice up her story. Clark's mob characters always meet at "the club". The Mafia don planned on going "to the club first and then have a celebration lunch on Mulberry Street", a restaurant where they saw "the family" and were served pastas by Mario the owner. The club is a "shabby store front exterior with a pay telephone that everyone knew was bugged" (page 84). Clark works in the details of the authentic mafia, making the book a reflection on society. Another event Clark drew a lot from happened in July 1983, six years before her book as published. At the JFK airport, customs officials seized a kilogram of heroin rolled in newspapers and then, two other identical packages were discovered headed to Berkeley, Ca. During the eighties, heroin was typically rolled in newspapers, sealed in plastic and "sent through the mail concealed in shipments of textiles, clothing, and other durable goods" (http://druglibrary.org). Clark's own version of her fictional drug bust sounds extremely familiar. "A Korean cargo plane?was cleared for landing at Kennedy Airport. Trucks from Gordon Steuber Textiles were waiting to pick up the crates of dresses and sportswear to be transferred to Long Island City warehouses; warehouses that did not appear anywhere in company records?law enforcement officials aware that they were about to make one of the biggest drug busts of the past ten years?The seams of exquisitely tailored linen jacket were slashed. Pure, uncut heroin poured into a plastic bag" (page 258). The accuracy of which this event is portrayed shows Clark's reliance on true events of the time. She includes historical events but only for the purpose of entertainment and for the unfolding of her plot. Clark's themes of the time are also reflected in other examples of popular culture of the eighties. The movie "Goodfellas", was released in 1990, a year after the publication of While My Pretty One Sleeps. It is also based on the life of the Mafia, with influence of the director's "growing up in New York's Little Italy" and it shows the "awe and envy of the swagger of the low-level wise guys in the social club across the street," the same social club Mary Higgins Clark's character frequented (Lycos.com). The Chicago Sun Times says it is "about what it is like to be in the mafia." Clark attempted to portray the same thing. She showed her character's despair of the underhanded dealings and the same "bad times" are shown in "Goodfellas." Another top-grossing film was "Beverly Hill Cop," released in 1984, and the same good versus evil battle. "The street smart cop unleashes his "talents" on California in "dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills" and gets another shot at the bad guys in Beverly Hills Cop II in 1986. In 1987, two years before Clark releases her novel, "The Untouchables" was released about two cops that hunt down Capone and his men. Like the suspense of Mary Higgins Clark, it is "a mix of biography and fiction [that] can often intensify the level of excitement" (Lycos.com). They are excellent stories although not accurate. They merely entertain. Although it said of "The Untouchables" that "a very well done story prove[s] to make this story very exciting, though not always believable," the same can be said of Mary Higgins Clark. While My Pretty One Sleeps received criticism for its unrealistic-ness although it was praised as an entertaining and suspenseful story. "The Untouchables", with its lack of truth but abundance of entertainment was nominated for four different Oscars in 1988 and won two Grammy Awards. Mary Higgins was on the right path in her aim for entertainment and disregard for literary merit. She knew where the money was. Other blockbusters were Ghostbusters in 1989, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future. They all fall under the mindset of the eighties where realism was not required but the "exciting, adrenaline-pumping joyride of life" prevailed (www.angelfire.com). Realism was not necessarily valued in a work and was not a criteria of judgment. "Murder She Wrote" was also a part of the eighties pop culture. The first segment was aired in 1984 and it proved to be the longest running detective mystery series on American Television. It was CBS's most successful show of the decade. No wonder Mary Higgins Clark's suspense novels were so successful at the same time period. The plots are so similar; "a talented but undiscovered crime-solver becomes a super-sleuth" (http://mysteries.com). The popularity of Clark's mystery novel and "Murder She Wrote" show a fascination in the culture for suspenseful sleuthing. The creation of Matlock as well in 1986 by NBC network shows the maintenance of demand in detective stories. The content of Mary Higgins Clark's stories reflect the fascinating and intriguing aspects of American society and it is her choice of subject and the way she presents it that makes her novels bestsellers. While drawing on derivatives of eighties' popular culture made her books bestsellers, the fact that they were one of a series also contributed to their success. Clark's books are similar to John Grisham novels and Sydney Shelton novels in the fact that they all follow a certain formula. John Grisham novels are typically a version of the "David and Goliath" stories, a small time lawyer restores faith against all odds for the criminal justice system. Clark, Grisham and Shelton seem to write almost identical novels over again, with different characters and different settings. However, they are successful. Their novels are repeat bestsellers. Part of the reason their later novels are bestsellers is the quality of the previous ones. Readers buy the novel because they liked his first and want to see if the subsequent ones are just as entertaining. Clark's readers are guilty of that as well. When While My Pretty One Sleeps is compared to her other novels, it usually comes in second. Where Are the Children? is deemed unmatched by Clark in her subsequent years by critics. In many reviews, the only compliment given to the novel, after degrading its far-fetched reality, was that it was one in a series of great novels and that it added to the tradition of Clark's talent. It was seen as merely a compliment to the collection and not an asset. While My Pretty One Sleeps sells as a best seller because its author is Clark. The publishers, in creating the cover art, milked the association with author as much as possible. On both the front cover, and on the spine, the author's full name is printed in bold letters appearing significantly larger than the title. Her name occupies the dead center of the cover and the title occupies the small top portion. Also on the cover reads, "By the author of Weep No More, My Lady". This same "selling by the author" technique is employed in the marketing of the Hardy Boys books. Having been around so long, with the same formulaic writing pattern of Clark's books, they must have a selling quality. Edward Stratemeyer, who invented the idea for the Hardy Boys created the plot outlines and hired ghost writers. After the first three starter books were released, five more in the next two years, and then one per year were published in an unchanging pattern. While the Hardy Boys remain popular today, the advertising has changed. They have been around for so long, new innovative marketing strategies have been employed. They have been abridged, color art was added in the seventies, and the most recent Library collection Editions have the inflated title. The phrase "The Hardy Boys" is the name readers will recognize. The Hardy Boys' books have been selling since the thirties; the advertising technique proves successful for both them and Mary Higgins Clark. While Mary Higgins Clark sells many copies of her books and I have explored some of the possibilities of attraction, there is one category that her genre and style explicitly violates. Her book is of no literary merit and deserves no praise for her revolutionizing style. Critics are sure to point out the predictable, never altering production of her works. In contrast, "Portnoy's Complaint" is a best-seller for the exactly the thing Mary Higgins Clark does not achieve. Philip Roth is praised as "the bravest writer in the United States. He's morally brave, he's politically brave" (Newsday). Clark clings to her comfortable limb while Roth takes the risk and writes about outrageous, lewd subjects. His novel is full of masterbation scenes and cursing. Portnoy filthily admires, " garunteed to have on her- a cunt! They all have cunts! Right under their dresses! Cunts- for fucking!" (page 102). This approach is a complete contrast to Mary Higgins Clark. She is not daring and revolutionary; she is safe and complacent. Roth's value is purely shock value. And yet, they are both best-sellers of their time. Bestsellers are best sellers because people buy them, not because they are fine literary pieces of work. That difference is key to understanding the concept of bestsellers and key to understanding the society that delves into them. Mary Higgins Clark is an entertainer; she is predictable but obviously tells the readers what they want to hear. Contemporary Authors http://mysteries.tv www.angelfire.com The Unofficial home page of the Hardy Boys www.80s.com Top-Grossing Films, Entertainment members@aol.com/aactchrnet/page21.html#1980 www.wwb.org http://cato.org www.lycos.com Chicago Sun Times www.NWHP.org Schaffer Library of Drug Policy First Edition of Novel While My Pretty One Sleeps Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
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