The Fincastle family of Ironside is what, in the early 1900s was referred to as “salt of the earth folks.”
Poor, hardworking, highly principled, they can be counted on to tend the sick, comfort the dying, stick up for the outcast.
Vein of Iron by Ellen Glasgow
Harcourt, Brace, 1935. 462 pages. 1935 bestseller #2. My Grade: B.
Awaiting a divorce, Ralph entices Ada to spend a weekend with him before he is sent off to France.
Ada goes through the disgrace of an unwed pregnancy.
After the Armistice, they marry.
The family, including Ada’s father and her aunt, moves from Ironside to a poor section of Queenborough. They have money saved toward a home when Ralph has a car accident.
The household is just beginning to recover from that crisis in 1929 when the stock market crashes.
Ada’s father goes home to Ironside to die; the rest of the family go back there to live.
Ellen Glasgow tells the story in an unsentimental, matter-of-fact way that makes it feel like biography. That no-nonsense tone gives the novel authority and power.
You’ll come away respecting the Fincastles rather than loving them — which is precisely as they would have wished.
© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni