Happiness. Freedom. Suicides. Generations. Love. Justice. Racism. Social Reform. Family.
In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow won the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel and was made into a film the same year. It is a slow moving, character driven novel. At times it is poignant. Many of the themes are timeless. Chapters focus on different characters in the story, helping to keep the novel fresh and interesting.
In the beginning of the story we meet Asa, who has had a pitiable life. He is the father of two grown daughters and a grown son, and the husband of Lavinia, whom he doesn’t like let alone love. Lavinia has been an invalid for most of their marriage, and her wealthy uncle, William, has helped them to survive financially. Roy, the older daughter, has been married to Peter for three years. Stanley, the younger daughter, is going to be married to Craig, a social reformer, in a few days. But, everyone can feel that something is wrong. That something becomes clear when Stanley and Peter run off together. Because Stanley has been the charmer most of her life, people don’t seem to hold the indiscretion against her. Roy, who has always been the strong one, puts on a strong front, but in time she finds herself comforting Craig. When Stanley’s marriage to Peter takes a tragic turn, she returns home and manages to inflict more hurt on innocent people. Craig’s ideals are put to the test. Asa finds courage.
At first I found the story incredible boring. Eventually, I found it comforting and touching because of how it speaks about life. I found it interesting because of the way it deals with racism in the context of the late 1930’s. I also found myself pondering my own life.