Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Matchmakers (1959)

The Matchmakers was published in the Collins' Girls' Annual 1959 and marks something of a turning point in the writings of Jane Shaw. Besides being the only short story of hers that is set in South Africa, it also introduces an element of romance into her work that hadn't appeared before. Jennifer, Jill and Tina wish that their big sister Elizabeth would hurry up and get married, as they all want to be bridesmaids. While they lie sunbathing, they watch Elizabeth and James on the other side of the river and decide that he needs some "prodding" and concoct a plan. Tina will pretend that she has fallen into the river and is drowning. James will jump in and rescue her and Elizabeth, who cannot fail but to be impressed by this brave deed, will marry him on the spot! 
But either Tina's acting deserves an award or things have gone awry! But not to worry, Tina is rescued, but to her surprise by James's rival for Elizabeth's affections, Paul.
Next day, Tina tries again by getting lost in the mountains to give James a second chance. But a troop of baboons have spotted her and look set to chase her!
Tina escapes the baboons but finds herself out on the steep mountainside, unable to crawl back to safety. And Paul comes to the rescue again!
But this is a Jane Shaw story, so all will end well! Elizabeth gets engaged to James after all and tells Paul's admirer, Jennifer, that she can have him for herself. The wedding is not in the story, but the artist provides us with a glimpse of the happy couple, with the bridesmaids in tow.