NYT Jan 23, 1910 Winning Lady

From New York Times (Jan 23, 1910)


Club Women There Seemed to Take a Cue from a Book by Mary Wilkins Freeman


But the Members Say They Just Concluded Prizes Might Inspire Envy and Unpleasant Competition.

METUCHEN, N. J. Jan. 22. — Although Mrs. Mary Wilkins Freeman, who lives here satirized women bridge whist players for their eagerness to gain the prizes in her recent book, “The Winning Lady,” it is said that that has nothing to do with the action of Metuchen's chief social organization, the Metuchen Club, which decided this week that there should be no more prizes in the club's set games, and that love of play should be the only incentive.

Although Mrs. Freeman is popular here and has played bridge on occasions, her attitude on the prize question was never broached to the club. Of their own accord the women of the club reached the conclusion that prizes might inspire envy and unpleasant competition.

When the advance notices of Mrs. Freeman's book appeared several months ago, this place was interested in learning that the chief story concerned a suburban bridge whist club in which one woman went to desperate ends to win a cut glass punch bowl. Conscience stricken by her success, she went several days later to the hostess of the club and told her that there was something wrong about the prize. The hostess flushed up, Mrs. Freeman narrates, and finally confessed that the prize was not cut glass, but only the ordinary kind, cheap at $2.98. Both were culprits and the social felony was compounded, no one being the wiser.

Neighboring places asked if Mrs. Freeman could be referring to Metuchen, and when the book was published, copies were eagerly sought. To local satisfaction it was found there were no local types, and that the scene of action might have been in Plainfield, Scotch Plains, New Brunswick, or any of the places adjacent to Metuchen. The story might even have taken place in New England, where Mrs. Freeman resided when she was known only as Mary E. Wilkins, before she married Dr. Freeman of this place. That closed the incident, except for the disappointment expressed by some persons who thought that Mrs. Freeman would some day “show up” New Jersey scenes and characters.

Ever since Mrs. Freeman moved to New Jersey it has been expected that she would picture New Jersey types, but each volume has been impersonal and eager and minute searching of her writings has not revealed one jot of what Henry Mills Alden, also a resident of Metuchen's literary colony, has termed “focused local color.” Miss Carolyn Wells, who is another resident of the section, has stated that she has found no indication of it, either.

Whatever may be the verdict of Plainfield in this matter, residents of this place are emphasizing strongly that the action of the ladies of the club is simply that of the natural moral and mental advancement that has characterized Metuchen for years.