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Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  727 Ratings  ·  60 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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Susan Katz I am attempting to read all the books that have won the Pulitzer Prize, so I got a (free) copy of Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield. I don't believe a…moreI am attempting to read all the books that have won the Pulitzer Prize, so I got a (free) copy of Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield. I don't believe a book has ever bored me quite so much. I am now skimming. It's just a lot of exposition and not much narrative.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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☕Laura
Sep 24, 2014 ☕Laura rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 21, 2011 Liz Chapman rated it liked it
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
Dec 05, 2014 My Inner Shelf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporains
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
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
Lynn
Oct 28, 2009 Lynn rated it it was ok
Shelves: pulitzer
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
Feb 16, 2013 Gail rated it liked it
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
Scott Cox
Author Louis Bromfield has been described by one biographer as being an “unashamed romantic idealist.” This is perhaps an adroit description of Bromfields’s 1927 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “Early Autumn.” Set in post-Puritan New England, it is a clash of two cultures. The first consists of rigid, conservative, and wealthy family members – whose minister is significantly characterized as being the “Apostle to the Genteel.” Maintaining wealth and status has replaced the religious fervor of thei ...more
Anna Gabur
Aug 19, 2016 Anna Gabur rated it really liked it
Normally I am not a fan of early 20th century novels because they are very melodramatic, full of pathos and not very relatable. This was not the case here. The writing was lean and pleasant, the plot, while dated, was not exactly cliche. I found myself invested in the lives of the Pentlands in a way that doesn't happen often. Good book.
ShaLisa
Jan 04, 2014 ShaLisa rated it really liked it
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
Dec 04, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
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
Jul 23, 2009 Joyce Lagow rated it liked it
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
Jul 02, 2013 Valentina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classici
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
Mar 22, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it
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
Dec 21, 2014 Beth rated it liked it
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 really liked it
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
Jan 12, 2013 Ben rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer
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
Sep 02, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it
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.
Jeff Stern
Jul 19, 2016 Jeff Stern rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-fiction
I really had every expectation that I would hate this book. Rich people can just be hella boring. But if rich people try to push back on the status quo, well that's a bit more interesting. There was some very lazy writing ("she was like a character from a Mrs. Wharton novel") and several characters just felt flat (especially Therése and Sabine, who I thought the entire novel was going to be about), but despite these flaws this 1927 Pulitzer Prize winner exceeded expectations.
Sarah
Jan 31, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
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
Jan 15, 2015 Rita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan Katz
May 31, 2016 Susan Katz rated it did not like it
Shelves: pulitzer-prize
This could be the most boring book that I ever actually finished, although I'll confess that I skimmed the last half. Not much happened, the ending was predictable, and it was just so much exposition. I guess if you're really into the interior life of stuffy people, you might like it. I didn't.
Lyn Richards
May 05, 2016 Lyn Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tender story

Why do we do what is right? What price is paid? Of what benefit is it to obey conscience? Like "Age Of Innocence" by Edith Wharton, this book will engage the reader to contemplate life choices, using a tender story to do so.
Chuck
Aug 04, 2014 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Leslie
Oct 23, 2015 Leslie rated it it was ok
It's hard to imagine that this book won a Pulitzer, in my opinion. The author is verbose and takes forever to make a point. There are too many meaningless characters. It was, well, boring.
Kim
Mar 03, 2010 Kim rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne
Dec 02, 2008 Suzanne rated it liked it
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
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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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“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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