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Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  562 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Bromfield takes a close look at the Pentlands- a fictional rich family in New England- exposing the hypocrisy and ignorance behind their luxurious facade. Bromfield's eloquence when describing both his characters and their surroundings is breathtaking, and his accuracy in describing the characters' complicated emotions makes it apparent that he knows human nature very well ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Wooster Book Co (first published 1926)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,334)
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☕Laura
I don't think I had ever heard of this book or this author before I started my Pulitzer challenge, and I wonder why. It is my favorite Pulitzer winner to date. The writing and the story flowed effortlessly for me and I felt that in Olivia the author created a character who felt very real and timeless. I highlighted many passages and could relate to many of Olivia's thoughts and emotions despite the nearly 90 years which have elapsed since the writing of this book. I found it to be a truly brilli ...more
Liz Chapman
Jacob picked this up from the library to read for himself, but I commandeered it for the weekend. It took me a while to get into. It was written in the late 1920s, which was a slightly more verbose time in literature, and it lacked the sharp and powerful imagery of Fitzgerald. But I was soon sucked in. It’s funny…the whole thing seemed very British/New England-ish. When I was halfway through the novel, I realized that there had only been two events that seemed to have any effect on the plot at a ...more
My Inner Shelf
Prix Pulitzer 1927, Précoce automne est à peu près aussi guilleret qu’Ethan Frome, ma précédente lecture. Mais le souvenir d’avoir adoré Les nuits de Bombay il y a des années m’a poussée à redécouvrir Bromfield. Il n’y a pas que la rigolade dans la vie !
Olivia Pentland, presque quadragénaire et très bien conservée, est l’épouse esseulée d’Anson Pentland, héritier de la dynastie du même nom, et vit depuis vingt ans au sein d’une famille dans laquelle son intégration reste relative. Mère de deux e
...more
Lynn
This book won the Pulitzer Prize, but I can't see why. The characters are very flat, and it's too explicit that they just represent ideas. There is this old New England family, representing a conventional but hypocritical way of life. Everyone is unhappy, whether a martyr to tradition although she gets no pleasure from it, or a person who flouts tradition out of bitterness and gets no pleasure out of that. The only son and heir was sickly and died, barely even a metaphor for the idea that his ar ...more
Gail
I liked this book for its subtle presentation of wisdom. Very good discriptions of thoughts and feelings of one standing at middle age looking at lost opportunities of youth vs. stagnation of status quo as the future. "It was because they possessed a curious, indefinable solidity that the others at Pentlands all lacked, and a certain fire and vitality. Neither blood, nor circumstance, nor tradition, nor wealth, had made life for them an atrophied, empty affair, in which there was no need for eff ...more
Erika
Beautiful, kind Olivia Penfield lives a stifling existence with a soulless husband and his puritanical New England family. Unable to stand a life with no joy or even diversion, she starts an affair—although it’s pretty tame by today’s standards—with a wealthy up and coming politician and they fall passionately in love. Will Olivia leave the lies and oppression of her miserable in-laws, or will a sense of duty compel her to stay?
Early Autumn is only an OK book. The plot meanders along until reac
...more
ShaLisa
The dominant reason I wanted to read this book was because my dad said he would like to be able write like this author. And the writing was indeed grand and worth reading the book!

I appreciated the story. The story made the reader believe it would be desirable and perhaps even noble for Olivia to abandon the line of pride and mirage she lived in and live for herself but I appreciated the path she chose and thought her choice to not abandon the promise she made to her beloved father-in-law and t
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I suspect happy people don't make especially good stories, and you ought not to expect many of them in this. Oh, there are a couple of them, but they try not to openly flaunt it. The others realize they gave up their shot at happiness when they were young, and married the wrong people for the wrong reasons. So they were stuck. Stuck because they believed and lived as if family and appearances count for a lot more than happiness.

The prose is interesting enough to tell the story without getting in
...more
Jessica
Early Autumn won the Pulitzer Prize in 1926, and I can see why. It tells the story of Olivia Pentland, a wife and mother living in Massachusetts. She married into the Pentland family; a family with a storied history reaching back for generations, a family so obsessed with the importance of their name that everything they do is to further that name and protect it from scandal, a family of old-fashioned values whose time may be coming to an end. Olivia is unhappy; her husband ignores her and she f ...more
Joyce Lagow
Pulitzer Prize winner for 1927.[return][return]Durham, Massachusetts, is an outpost for the old, wealthy families of Boston, such as the Pentlands, who live in a mansion of the same name. The story recounts the lives of the Pentlands in post World War I Durham during late summer and early fall, mostly from the point of view of Olivia, the 40 year old wife of Anson Pentland.There are unwelcome changes to the neighborhood and to the lives of the Pentlands, coming in the form of Sabine Callender, s ...more
Valentina
Scrivo con difficoltà questa recensione, un po’ dispiaciuta perché mi trovo a dare un voto medio ad un autore Premio Pulitzer nel 1926. Ma non posso fare altrimenti: ho letto Autunno con molta difficoltà, perché ad una lettura quasi edificante e suggestiva si sono alternati fasi nelle quali non mi era psicologicamente possibile leggere più di una pagina al giorno. Ci sono voluti ben due mesi – giustificati anche dal periodo critico degli ultimi esami e della stesura della tesi – per terminarlo e ...more
Michael
Life for society women in the 1920s had its own constraints, the image of "family" was stronger than "self," and the idea of a woman's freedom had yet to be born.

In "Early Autumn," the Pulitzer Prize winner of 1927, we have the story of a family, its place in the society of the times and the rigid rules for family members who were almost the aristocracy of New England.

The story opens with the celebration of Olivia Pentland's eighteen-year-old daughter, Sybil, who is being introduced into Boston
...more
Joy
I really liked this book. It's a story about a New England family who has become more wealthy through the centuries, but "dessicated" as people, so that they keep carrying on, but life moves more like a protected dream than real life. It's a bit of a cliche--the wealthy people in the big house have no life except for an occasional ball, bridge and visiting one another while the servants and middle class folks who are more earthy are very connected to life and passion, including sexual desire. Ye ...more
Beth
It's always reassuring to read about people slightly older than me considering themselves still to be young. In Early Autumm, a 39-year-old woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a wealthy man contemplates leaving him to begin her life again with a strapping Irishman. The prose is occasionally lovely, and it's cool that an award-winning novel from 1926 features two strong and independent women. But the plot drags, and the characters never fully come to life.
Tamara
Aug 26, 2008 Tamara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The ladies in my family
Recommended to Tamara by: Pulitzer (33 down, 47 to go!)
Shelves: pulitzer-winners
I would like to give this book 4.5 stars because I liked it better than just really liking it. The atmosphere that Bromfield establishes is almost tangible and all the characters are interesting and intense, even the "dead, who only live through watching others." This book felt a little like Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and Wuthering Heights with the mysteries and secrets and passion and wildness, only I think it was better written than any of the others I listed. Not especially a happy ending, but inevi ...more
Suketus
Aug 09, 2014 Suketus added it
Shelves: usa
Omanlaisensa yläluokkainen perhehelvetti ensimmäisen maailmansodan jälkeiseltä USA:n itärannikolta. Pentlandin suku on ensimmäisten puritaanisiirtolaisten jälkeläisiä ja suvun mainetta on pidettävä yllä kynsin hampain, vaikka suku on sammumassa ja säröjä ilmaantuu julkisivun pintaan yksi toisensa jälkeen. Suomennos on sekä viehättävän että ärsyttävän vanhanaikainen, alkukielellä lukeminen olisi ehkä ollut miellyttävämpää.
Ben
Pulitzer 1927 - Early Autumn is the story of the Pentland family a rich family in the fictional town of Durham MA - a town that easily could be on the cape. The are all about being Pentlands and their family and heritage. Through the course of this short novel the underpinnings of their family legacy are shattered and try as they might to ignore them there are family scandals both past and present.
This book was just not very compelling for me. Considering it is less than 200 pages (although den
...more
Cheryl
Subtly very moving. It conjures something deep and wise, and I was enchanted. I'll think of the protagonist for years to come. My only critique is some repeat phrasing/descriptions, though Bromfield may have had his purpose. This author was a true renaissance man and I'm awed with his ability to write female characters so truly.
Sarah
Olivia, married at a young age into the stiflingly repressive Pentland family, finds herself at 40 growing increasingly tired of her loveless marriage. So, when two new people turn up in the Pentland’s small home town of Durham Massachusetts; her husband’s niece, the rebellious Sabine Callendar, who married an unsuitable man and left town years ago, and Michael O’Hara a wealthy young Irish-American politician, Olivia finds herself torn between duty to the Pentland family and her desire for a mor ...more
Virginia
This was definitely one of the greatest reads (of family saga sort) ever. The beautiful language painted wonderful pictures. The characters were captivating. The setting vividly portrayed "old Boston" at the beginning of the 20th century.

Most of all it was the plot that kept the book going. It was definitely not a cookie cutter, humdrum story of the "trapped" woman. But had many twists and turns. At no point did I want to say "stop whining" as I often do.

The main character Olivia follows the flo
...more
Rita
A story about members of an old aristocratic Massachusetts family where several of its members try to escape it's stodgy, stale, boring existence. Unfortunately for some, propriety was the victor.
I enjoyed the slow languorous writing pace that lent itself to intriguing and in depth character development. It invited the reader to get involved and actually dislike the conniving characters unless of course the Pentland family ennui dominated the reader first!

This reminded me of early English novel
...more
Chuck
Another lovely tale of the upper class in America, this time told from the perspective of the perceived weight on the shoulders of the well off, and how that caused them to be isolated and regressive.
Kim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne
I'd probably go up to 3.5 stars if I could. This was an engaging and easy read, and initially I couldn't figure out why this was awarded the Pulitizer Prize in 1927. As the book progressed though, I admired the character strength and development of Olivia, and to some degree John Pentland. The plot also grew more complex as Olivia's struggle became more and more tangled between desire and responsibility; the tension was almost palpable. I admire Louis Bromfield's very diverse and many accomplish ...more
Bat713
I can see why this novel won the Pulitzer. I first thought it old fashioned but soon was swept away by the brilliant writing. It reminded me of an American Austin novel.
Marty
Another of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels Steve and I have been reading. This book was fabulous - describing the lives of well-to-do family of long standing reputation in a small community near Boston. The author describes the pains the patriarch of the family goes to in order to maintain the reputation of the family name - and how even a woman who only marries into the family can become so enmeshed in the life that she might as well have been born into the family. Beautifully crafted charact ...more
Roxanne Russell
The central theme of emerging feminine independence in this 1926 Pulitzer winner was surprisingly strong for a novel by a man in the early 20th century. So was the overly romantic dialogue and inner monologues. It read like a woman had written it, not an overly talented one.
I was disappointed by the ending because the romance of the rest of the novel is abandoned, needlessly and abruptly. I was also dissatisfied with the lack of dimension in characters who were intended to be complex. Their comp
...more
Diane
The storyline of this book is an age old one, but I did enjoy the telling of it by this author. The only reason I didn't give it a full five stars is because I found some of the descriptions a bit repetitive. Sabine, especially, is described a particular way a number of times, yet she never seems to proceed as a character. Some of the other characters are even less developed. This is one of those books that fits the period it was written in and in reading it now, one can't help but think it woul ...more
Bill
Wonderful writing with some incredibly beautiful passages (though typically somber ones). For me, this book started slowly but gained "speed" page by page until by the end I almost couldn't bear to put the book down.
Agnes Mack
Early Autumn won the Pulitzer in 1926, and like many of the Pulitzer winners around this time, the focus was much more on the story than the storytelling. Unfortunately, the story being told was one that's been told a million times before. Woman marries into wealthy and prestigious family. Her husband is cold and indifferent. She falls in love with a lowly farmhand. They promise to run away together. Instead, they don't.

There are 4 similar books I can think of off hand that tell a similar story
...more
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Louis Bromfield was an American author and conservationist who gained international recognition winning the Pulitzer Prize and pioneering innovative scientific farming concepts.

Bromfield studied agriculture at Cornell University from 1914 to 1916,[1] but transferred to Columbia University to study journalism. While at Columbia University, Louis Bromfield was initiated into the fraternal organizati
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More about Louis Bromfield...
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“He had a feeling that somewhere in the course of her life something had happened to her, something terrible which in the end had given her a great understanding and clarity of mind. He knew, too, almost at once, on the day she had driven up to the door of the cottage, that she had made a discovery about life which he himself had made long since . . . that there is nothing of such force as the power of a person content merely to be himself, nothing so invincible as the power of simple honesty, nothing so successful as the life of one who runs alone. Somewhere she had learned all this. She was like a woman to whom nothing could ever again happen.” 11 likes
“I was brought up to look upon falling in love as something natural...something that was pleasant and natural and amusing. I've been in love before, casually, the way young Frenchmen are...but in earnest, too, because a Frenchman can't help surrounding a thing like that with sentiment and romance. He can't help it. If it were just...just something shameful and nasty, he couldn't endure it. They don't have affairs in cold blood the way I've heard men talk about such things since I've come here. It makes a difference, Mrs. Pentland, if you look at things in the light they do. I've learned now, and it is a thing which needs learning, the most important thing in all life. The French are right about it. They make a fine, wonderful thing of love.” 3 likes
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