In Life and Gabriella, Ellen Glasgow examines the life of a woman with a “vein of iron” in her.
(Glasgow would later use that title for a novel which became a bestseller in 1935.)
Life and Gabriella:
The Story of a Woman’s Courage by Ellen Glasgow
Doubleday, Page, 1916. 500+ p. 1916 bestseller #5.
Project Gutenberg ebook #14571. My Grade: A-.
When it’s clear that Gabriella’s self-martyring sister and incompetent mother would rather starve than work, Gabriella breaks her engagement and gets a job.
Hearing the news, George Fowler comes back from New York and sweeps Gabriella off her feet.
George is worthless in his father’s business and unfaithful to Gabriella, leaving her with two children.
Gabriella goes back to work for a clothing designer; by age 37, she owns the place.
Glasgow focuses on how Gabriella can be counted on as a single mother, as a businesswoman in an era when women stayed home, and as a woman without a man in her life.
However, Glasgow doesn’t neglect to observe that Gabriella can be headstrong, prejudiced, and ridiculously romantic even at 38.
Glasgow sprinkles the narrative with keen observations that made me laugh with pleasure at their just-rightness, even while I teared-up in the knowledge that life is the way she tells it.
Even the happy ending promises only to be happy sometimes.
©2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni