Life after Work

Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield, Pulitzer Winner of 1927

When I started reading “Early Autumn” my first thought was “‘Age of Innocence’ all over again!’ There are too many similarities. Upper class family – check! Female Cousin returns from overseas after dissolution of marriage – check! Said cousin is considered immoral by conservative family members – check! Love triangle – check! But I read on, wondering how this book would differ from Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel .

For one, the story takes place in New England and revolves around the Pentland family who goes all the way back to the¬†Massachusetts¬†Bay Colony. Then, our protagonist is female this time around, so her love interest is not the cousin (a little too progressive?), but the neighbor, an Irish businessman, considered unworthy and an upstart by the upper-crust Pentlands. Olivia Pentland, 40-year-old mother of two and wife of John Pentland who is more interested in the family history book he’s working on than his wife and children, is forced to consider what is more important – her own happiness or the family name. It takes a while for Olivia to discover the feelings the neighbor has for her, but I saw it coming from a mile away. And sadly, this lowered the book towards romance novel stuff for me. I raced through the remaining pages wondering “is she or isn’t she???” (This is when I wonder if I should give the ending away. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t)

What I liked about the book: the description of the Pentland family and their home paints a picture of a haunted house, that was well done. But besides that, the story felt predictable and the ending was a letdown (you probably have guessed now how it ends anyway).

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