From Publishers Weekly
Progressive activist Gale (1874– 1938) first published the title novella in 1920 to critical and popular acclaim, following it with a Pulitzer Prize–winning play of the same title. This edition, printed with four of Gale's stories and a new introduction, reintroduces Lulu Bett, an unmarried 34-year-old who lives with her sister and brother-in-law, Ina and Dwight Deacon, as "the family beast of burden." She suffers the indignity of unpaid servitude and Dwight's mean-spirited jokes until his brother, Ninian, arrives after a 20-year absence. The ebullient visitor awakens Lulu's spirit, and a wedding they conduct in jest turns serious. Lulu enjoys a brief honeymoon before disappointment strikes, but she asserts herself again at the end of this story about independence and marriage. The other stories—"Dream" (1919), "The Biography of Blade" (1927), "The Need" (1930) and "Bridal Pond" (1930)—also address marriage, societal strictures and power imbalances. "Dream," for example, critiques racism with its depiction of a community eagerly anticipating the arrival of affluent new neighbors until it's discovered they're black. Gale's incisive social commentary, economical prose, complicated characterizations and natural dialogue make for lovely rediscovery. (Dec.)
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“A great book . . . the telling is almost incomparable” --Robert Benchley, The World
“Eloquent. . . . Miss Lulu Bett
is without flaw” --The Atlantic Monthly
“It has a narrowly limned beauty. . . . The book stands as a signal accomplishment in American letters” —The New Republic