"Polly thought her dream of creating beautiful, original pottery was over — broken like some fragile vase — but it was to come true in a totally unexpected way." In case you guessed that our latest career romance for young moderns, Virginia Kitzmiller's Dreams to Shatter was written in the 60s, you'd be right! 1967, to be precise, when ceramics were sweeping the nation! So: Potter's wheels, shattered dreams and, of course, romance — after the jump.
The Heroine: 19-year-old brunette Polly Wallace, who is forced to drop out of art school and abandon a promising career in ceramics to care for a neurotic mother prone to migraines and panic attacks, and her three younger siblings. Polly is initially resentful of the demands made on her.
I suppose I feel about clay the way a musician feels about his instrument. I only feel alive when I begin on a hunk of clay, wedging it, pounding it, throwing it on a wheel - and then the joy of feeling it grow from a blob of stuff into the form you had in your mind all the time. I only feel alive when I'm making a shape out of a no-shape.
The Industry: Ceramics! Just by chance, the area where Polly lives is home to some of the finest "natural ceramic clay" deposits in the world, and has attracted a famous bohemian potter names Sven Svensen. Although a recluse, Sven becomes Polly's mentor, encouraging her natural talent. Polly's mother initially dismisses ceramics as a messy hobby, by watching the magic of pot-throwing she comes to understand the art form.
The wheel turned steadily, hypnotically. The clay rose, rounded, was pushed back gently, evened out, bulged, was molded back. It was a bowl now, responding almost imperceptibly to the carefully controlled fingers, fingers that seemed rather to follow some preordained shape than to direct it.
The Love Interests:Polly has a long-term steady, Kevin, whom she takes for granted. Kevin is a reporter on Mr. Wallace's paper and doesn't really get Polly's passion for ceramics. So, when the dashing potter Josh MacIntosh comes to town, building her kick-wheels and talking kilns, Polly is smitten...but why does he seem immune to her charms?
The Supporting Players:Polly lives with her parents, a self-absorbed sister named Tish, a kid brother. Tommy, and the scheming 10-year-old Vicky. She has a frumpy but dependable best friend, Enid, and a circle of older acquaintances in town who run the "fine arts club."
The Plot:Polly is desperate to continue her ceramics, despite her mother's wish to control her and prevent her from building a small studio in the basement. When Polly and Josh discover an abandoned doll factory on the outskirts of town, they decide to try to turn it into a ceramics studio and offer lessons. But will the kiln work? Will Polly's mother relent? Will they find students? Will the town elders come to accept the ceramics workshop? Will Polly win the enigmatic Josh and, in the process, lose dependable Kevin to Enid?
The Resolution:Despite continued problems with the kiln and one very dramatic scene in which a collapsed chimney destroys all the pottery they've made for an expo, all is resolved: fired by a passion for the local clay, the town decides to spring for an Arts Center - with woodworking and weaving, too! Upon learning that Josh is married (although separated) Polly realizes she's loved Kevin all along - and that she can pursue her dreams without even leaving home.