Love Insurance

loveins_bookPlenty of people know that Lloyds of London has a history of insuring strange things. In Love Insurance, Earl Derr Biggers uses this idea as a basis for his comical story.

Lord Harrowby is set to marry a Miss Cynthia Meyrick in the near future, and is afraid of anything cancelling the wedding. He goes to Lloyds to have the pending event insured, and his case manager, a Mr. Minot, is assigned to keep a close eye on the situation.

And so Minot travels to San Marco Florida by rail, meeting a beautiful girl on the way. He’s captivated, smitten, and twitterpated in her presence; but who is she? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

love_insurance_-_p294

Original illustration

But Minot is committed to his assignment, and soldiers his couple through false accusations by foreign parties, theft, bad publicity, family strife, and a very large number of dinner parties. Along the way, Derr Biggers sprinkles in some sarcastic carpetbagging newsmen, Cuban criminals, a bored aristocrat turned con artist, a straight forward con artist, a joke writer, and plenty of posh society dames, wits, twits, and flakes.

While it has a certain late Edwardian melodramatic bent, it is funny, plausible, and extremely well written. Biggers has what might today be called a cinematic eye, painting lovely, detailed word pictures to give his audience clear images of a place, a person, or an object:

They had reached the Villa Jasmine now, a great white palace in a flowery setting more like a dream than a reality. The evening breeze murmured whisperingly through the palms, a hundred gorgeous colors shone in the moonlight, fountains splashed coolly amid the greenery.

“Act Two”, muttered Minot. “The grounds surrounding the castle of the fairy princess.”

“You have to come down here, don’t you,” replied Paddock, “to realize that old Mother Nature has a little on Belasco, after all?”

love_insurance_1919_1

One of the only extant images from the film

In point of fact, there was a now lost silent film made of Love Insurance, in 1919. Plenty of Biggers’ other works were also filmed, the Charlie Chan series being the most widely known.

If you would like to read it for yourself, Feedbooks has is right over here for FREE.

You can also listen to the text (read by a variety of talented folks) on Librivox.

I highly recommend you spend some time noodling around in the Lloyds of London archives – the array of weird, unique, and outlandish insurance policies is fascinating.

While the 1919 film was lost, in 1940 Love Insurance was made into an Abbot and Costello film titled One Night in the Tropics. The Internet Archive has the trailer here.

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