Fantastic Find at the Bookstore #6: Rose Franken’s “Claudia” Series

I should be packing for my upcoming move, down one floor to my new, balconied apartment. Fellow book lovers know exactly what happens when you start going through your shelves. I’m lingering and looking each book over before placing it in a box! While paging through my “Claudia” books by Rose Franken, I decided to stop and write this post.

When I was in high school, a friend loaned me a book that had originally belonged to her mother. It was already decades old, but named after the couple, Claudia and David, the blue and gold cover appealed to me. At that time, I wasn’t an avid reader and probably didn’t start it right away. That might be why I hung onto it, taking the book with me when I moved after graduation. (Please note, I’m much better about returning books these days. Marilyn, if you’re out there, email me your address and I’ll send this treasure back to you:)

As a young mother, I did finally read the book and loved the world of Claudia and David Naughton, as they moved from New York City to suburban Connecticut. One afternoon, while my baby napped and I dusted furniture, I switched the television on to encounter those very same characters! I realized the movie, Claudia, must have been based on the first in a series. The search was on for more books!

Over the years, I’ve been lucky to find several more titles from the series, like those above, in used bookstores. The one on the left is an omnibus, containing the first title, Claudia, and the second, Claudia and David. Come to find out, both of those were made into movies with Dorothy McGuire and Robert Young, pictured on the red dust jacket. I also love my paperback versions, shown below.

Knowing of the collection, my sister found and surprised me with the “Armed Services Edition” of Another Claudia. During WWII, many complete books were printed in a special size and shape to fit into the pockets of those in the Armed Forces. The book has water damage, and I always wonder if that’s from the conditions where it was taken during the war. Other books in the series are more challenging to find, but I’ve borrowed many from libraries in order to read and enjoy the complete series of eight.

Research tells me the saga of Claudia, her architect husband and their children began as stories by Rose Franken that appeared in Redbook and Good Housekeeping magazines, from about the late Thirties to late Fifties. In addition to the movies, “Claudia” was a hit play on Broadway and also appeared serialized on radio and for a short time on television.

By today’s standards, I suppose the stories are rather sentimental and melodramatic. They do address many important and timeless themes, such as marital temptation, gender issues, serious illness, war, financial woes, racism, and grief related to death and dying. There is always an underlying lightness, however, and a certain sense of redemption. Claudia grows up and comes into her own throughout the course of the series, and David evolves, as well. Both husband and wife are examples of strong individuals who aren’t afraid to lean on someone else when that’s what life requires.

Rose Franken 1895-1988

In addition to her writings about “Claudia,” Rose Franken was a well-known playwright and director who also wrote and successfully published many other novels. She was born in Texas but grew up in New York. A single parent, her first husband died of tuberculosis, and she drew upon that experience when she wrote about fictional David suffering from TB. She eventually remarried a lawyer, with whom she moved to Connecticut and collaborated on successful serial fiction and many movies. I found her autobiography, When All is Said and Done, to be as enjoyable as her novels.

I don’t really need more books, unless I plan on investing in some new bookshelves. However, while revisiting online sources today, I was reminded that map backs aren’t just for mysteries. I see that a paperback version of Young Claudia was published with a map on the back, so I may need to keep looking…

38 thoughts on “Fantastic Find at the Bookstore #6: Rose Franken’s “Claudia” Series

  1. Hi. Your essay got me interested in Claudia, which I was unfamiliar with. Didn’t know about the books or the TV series or anything else. Turns out that Hugh Reilly, whose name I remember, was in the series. He later went on to act in the Lassie series.

    Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How cool!!! I hadn’t heard of this series before. There are just those books that evolve into something even more than books. Life experiences we’ve shared with the people between the pages tangled with moments in our own lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this blog post. I also appreciated you mentioning the Armed Forces editions. Although they don’t make the Armed Forces editions anymore, the military library systems still provide paperback books for deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines -whether they are on maneuvers, on the battlefield, out to sea, incarcerated or on embassy duty around the world. I had the privilege of being the Army paperback book librarian for two years in the 1990s. The Department of Defense also provides library service to most bases and posts (CONUS AND OCONUS or in the United States and overseas to those of you not familiar with miltary jargon) as well as on ships at sea.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How fascinating! I’d never heard of the series, but even without having read any, it seems like the books are treasures on their own.
    The thing about being better about returning books… you put the call out to Marilyn, so you can hopefully return the book.
    I have some mitts I want to return. I should have returned them 26 years ago. I was supposed to put idiot strings on them, so the person wouldn’t lose them. They were from her father. I can’t even remember the girl’s name. I’m so haunted by those darn mitts.

    Liked by 1 person

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