Their YesterdaysReaders’ TreasureToday

Thirteen Truly Great Things of Life there are. No life can have less. No life can have more. All of life is in them. No life is without them all: Dreams, Occupation, Knowledge, Ignorance, Religion, Tradition, Temptation, Life, Death, Failure, Success, Love, Memories.

In Their Yesterdays, Harold Bell Wright does all the wrong things and turns out an exactly right novel, brimming with tears of joyous nostalgia.

A little boy and little girl grow up separated only by a hedge in a rural community. After she moves away, they lose touch,  but each remains a central figure in the other’s memories. Grown to adulthood, they face the normal challenges of life strengthened by the values they learned as children.

Eventually the grown up boy and girl meet again, marry, and raise a family.

Wright has a knack for fastening emotion in a phrase like a bee in amber. He tells of the lad “stretched on a cross of nothing to do.” He says, “One need not die to orphan a child,” and “Life itself is nothing less than this: a continual trying again.”

Wright doesn’t give his characters names. He doesn’t tell where they lived, what they did for a living, or relate any but the vaguest suggestions of the piviotal experiences of their lives.  He outlines the entire tale in the proem, quoted above, and organizes each chapter in exactly the same manner.  The book should be a disaster. Yet somehow Wright makes the characters so vivid they sing on the page.

And this was the true glory and the fulfillment of their lives…that they could see themselves renewed in their children and in their children’s children.

Their Yesterdays
by Harold Bell Wright
Illus by F. Grahman Cootes
1912 bestseller #3
Project Gutenberg ebook #6105
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