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The Able McLaughlins

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  626 ratings  ·  42 reviews
This neglected novel tells the story of Wully McLaughlin coming home from the Civil War to find his sweetheart pregnant with another man’s child.
Paperback, 268 pages
Published September 1st 1994 by Cherokee Publishing Company (GA) (first published 1923)
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Pulitzer Winners: Fiction & Novels
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,826)
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Roxanne Russell
This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924, but is about a Scottish community in the Midwest in the 1870's. Though Wilson's flowery prose made me lose interest at times, I loved how she lingered sentimentally over all of her characters. And how she interspersed glimpses of the future into the story.
She handles a horrific and tragic prairie rape with unflinching attention to the emotions of all who are touched by it. And presents a complete portrait of this community and its culture.

I really love
Mimi Stamper
I loved this book. The writing was a bit archaic and full of Scottish dialect, but once you got past that, it was beautiful. The story follows a group of families from Scotland who settled the American prairies in the 1860s. The heartache of ten kids in a one-room cabin and endless days of back-breaking labor are offset by the beauty of the prairies and the love the families share and the joy of freedom and possibility. Hard as it was, the freedom of this country and the ability to own land made ...more
I'm reading every Pulitzer Prize winning novel, in order, and reached 1924's The Able McLaughlins. With a deep breath, and gritted teeth, I started a book I'd never heard of, that I was sure I wouldn't like. I thought the title was stupid and the plot didn't interest me.
But, as it turned out, I judged The Able McLaughlins too fast.
The novel takes place in a midwestern Scottish farming community during the 1860s. The McLaughlin family's oldest son Wully has just returned from the Civil War ready
This book has great characters and great descriptions of the setting of the novel. I love the opening sentence of the book. The book is set in Iowa during pioneer days and gives a good view of what life was like at that time. A refreshing read as it is devoid of edgy elements that writers seem to think must be included in today's novels.
Melissa (ladybug)
Mar 26, 2012 Melissa (ladybug) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I loved this book. I started to read it and found myself having a hard time putting it down. It was really descriptive of what the Civil War and the aftermath for one family was like. I liked the fact that Wully didn't let what happened to Christie stop him from loving, marrying and caring for her and her son. Wully tried his hardest to care for her and I believe he was successful in the end.
1924.....Hmmm. Virginia Woolf was writing at this time. Americans Fitzgerald,Hemmingway, Faulkner hmmmm....and this was the best the US could choose??? Sweet story.
Nomadic SA Chick's Book Reviews

Wully is in love with Christie, but doesn't realize it he's about tp return to the fight in the Civil War. Wully promises Christie that as soon as he returns they will get married and start their lives together. Christie is excited about her future. Though her father is recently deceased, and her mother is severely depressed, Christie carries on with her days, caring for her younger siblings, and waiting for Wully's return. Wully is shocked he he comes home
Joyce Lagow
Pulitzer Prize winner for 1924.[return][return]The story of a Scottish community in Iowa, it is mainly the story of Wullie and Chirstie, two young people who fall in love and get married but not before Chirstie suffers a scarring experience that affects her marriage.[return][return]It s a simple story and it s told in simple prose. I ve read reviews that compare Wilson to Cather, but as far as I am concerned, Cather s prose is far more sophisticated and flows more easily. Still, Wilson tells her ...more
I love reading Pulitzer Prize winners for what they reveal about what was on the United States' mind, so to speak. Especially because they often seem to be set in the past, and it can be very interesting to see what the past (in this case, 1924) thought about the past past (in this case, prairie life around the end of the Civil War).

This book is a simple story, simply told, with a surprisingly thoughtful ending and a bit of an interesting glimpse into the frontier prairie life. It has an old-fa
I wanted to like this book, I tried, I really did.

After seeking out and purchasing a rather pricey used copy (because not a single edition was to be found within my entire inter-library loan system) it only made sense to give it every opportunity to prove itself. Sadly, it turned out to be a disappointment. The writing was so awkward and choppy and the characters acted inconsistently enough that I found it difficult to conceive how it won the 1924 Pulitzer for fiction. What is perfectly clear,
I may be weird, but I loved this book!! It was definitely a different kind of writing style than we are used to, but kind of reminded me of Conrad Richter (who I happen to really like!). I thought that Wully and Cristie learned and grew so much together as they were married and I loved how they changed by the end of the story. And the mother-in-law figure is sooo fantastic. loved it!

A nice gentle story about a man returning to his family after the Civil War that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924. Not a heavy book, like many Pulitzer novels are... more like Little House on the Prairie for grownups. Enjoyable if you can find it, but the book is scarce. I couldn't even find a copy at Powell's, wound up borrowing it from the library.
Mark Oppenlander
Wully McLaughlin is the son of Scottish immigrants living in the great plains of the US in the late 19th century. Returning from the Civil War, he is ready to marry his childhood sweetheart, Chirstie McNair, only to find that she has been violated and impregnated by the community's ne'er-do-well, Peter Keith. Wully forces Peter to leave the area under pain of death and then decides to marry Chirstie, accepting paternity of the child, thus (partially) hiding her shame. But when Peter wanders back ...more
Don't know why I just stumbled upon this book now; it was a good read, especially recommend for those readers who are Civil War history buffs.

There are many reasons it won the 1924 Pulitzer prize. The depiction of the Scottish characters is priceless, and probably more accurate than you would find in more recent writings. Prairie life was hard, and so were the pioneers, there was little romance in the day to day lives, marriages could be arranged for practical reasons, babies and children died f
A great story! I love when good conquers evil and when love conquers all! Great characters!
Christopher MacMillan

Wully McLaughlin comes proudly marching home from the Civil War, only to find his sweetheart is pregnant with another man, in Margaret Wilson's forgotten Pulitzer Prize-winner.

This story, about a Scottish commune in the farmlands of Iowa, features characters full of quirks and charms: they are simple and happy, with a common sense approach to matters, and a natural striving for gaiety in life's smaller things. This lifestyle, however, is shaken by the secret that Wully and his new w
Pulitzer 1924 - The Able McLauglins is the story of a group of Scottish immigrants in Iowa during the Civil War. The eldest son returns home to let his parents know that his brother has been killed - he falls in love with the neighbor girl and it is the story of their early marriage. This book tends to follow a similar path as that of its contemporaries. The story of a family struggling with its outward appearance while inwardly they are in turmoil. Wully, the Civil War vet, wants nothing more t ...more
The time of this Pulitzer Prize winning story is toward the conclusion of the Civil War. Families are receiving notification about the death, injury or capture of their loved ones.

Wully McLaughlin returns to his parents' farm after escaping from the Confederates where he had been taken prisoner. He thinks about the war and finding his brother's body after one battle. Some of this part of the novel reminds me of "The Red Badge of Courage."

While Wully is home, he visits the farm of Christie McNair
As others have noted, this book seems to have sunk into obscurity over the years because, well, it's not very good. Whatever story exists is not particularly interesting and the writing doesn't compare well with other works from that era.

Having said that, this is a peak into turn of the century America and a Pulitzer Prize winner, so worth the read just for those notables. The next year's Pulitzer went to Edna Farber's So Big which is not dissimilar in intent, and much (much) better.
This book is a literary example of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr's epigram, "the more things change, the more they stay the same". Written in 1924, set in post-Civil War Iowa, the McLaughlins are a family of Scotch immigrants. The story begins with one of the oldest sons returning to the homestead for a short R&R and falling head over heals in love with a girl from a nearby farm. When the war ends, he returns to the family with dreams of starting a life with her, one just like his parent's, bu ...more
David  Despain
I had a lot of thoughts about this very enjoyable novel. But because goodreads only gives me so much space, check out my blog at:
Lori Widmer Bean
A quiet, yet tumultuous story of relocated Scots who make the Midwest their new home. Margaret Wilson rivals John Steinbeck's ability to elevate everyday life into beautiful, stark drama. Wilson's story deserves the Pulitzer it was awarded; the drama is fast-paced, intriguing, and surprising. I couldn't put it down.
This one won the Pulitzer prize in 1924, although I doubt it would make the cut any more. The writing style is easy to read but doesn't have the that lush texture I associate with really great authors. It is the story of a scottish family during and after the Civil War. The author tries to use the story to make a moral point and, while not against that in principle, wasn't happy with it in practice as the story line seemed to be held hostige by the moral. Not a bad read, just not particularly co ...more
I really enjoyed this book. I felt that the characters were sympathetic and the story, surprisingly, fairly simple and straightforward. The story relies on a couple of coincidences to create the story--for instance, when Wully and Chirstie meet and at the climax of the book, but they are blended well into the story.

This should be interesting--the cover review describes the book as "wholesome". It's also about a family that immigrated from Scotland to settle in Iowa. We'll see.
An unassuming window into a bygone society, where people actually care about the math on the time elapsed between a marriage and the birth of a first child. This 1924 Pulitzer winner probably won't wow many people, but it's definitely a gentle read for people who are interested in older accounts of frontier America.
I liked this read - very different. It is strange to find books from this era, post Civil War featuring the Mid-west. The story of a family and their trials and difficulties faced but not really a plot or purpose. Just a realistic life story of a pioneer family.
An interesting read.

This book was written about late Victorian times but set on the US prairie in a Scottish community. It was an easy and enjoyable read, and although the defining plot element is a rape, this is more about life in a small community and family.
Matthew Coleman
Quiet story of a Scotch settler town in the mid-West. Why are all of thes Pulitzer books about the mid-West lately? It's ultimately a love story of two kids who try to navigate scandal and their unconventional relationship admidst centuries of tradition.
the fourth of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels that my husband and I are reading. This was an excellent story - great characters, intersting plot, good suspense - one could easily see why the Pulitzer was awarded.
Eerily honest book about the dark and bright sides of life for Scottish immigrants around the time of America's Civil War. Very easy read and VERY INTERESTING PLOT!
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Able McLaughlin's by Margaret Wilson 2 13 Sep 05, 2015 10:30AM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

American novelist. In 1923, she married G. D. Turner, after which she became a resident in England. She was awarded the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for The Able McLaughlins.

Source: Wikipedia.
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