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Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,047 ratings  ·  91 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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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,047 ratings  ·  91 reviews


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Loretta
I'm not really sure what to say about this Pulitzer Prize Winner. What I can say is that I really wonder how this book won the prize in the first place. By 100 pages I really wanted to stop reading the book all together but struggled on. First, there were too many characters, all who I didn't care about, at all. And secondly, to me, it seemed that there really wasn't much of story here. Not one that really kept my interest.
☕Laura
Jan 20, 2013 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
Maria
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I found this book on my quest for a classic written by an author who lived in Ohio. After doing a bit of research, I came across Louis Bromfield. I learned he was born in Mansfield, Ohio, and that he wrote several books including this one a Pulitzer Prize winner! I'm happy to say that I found a gem in more ways than one: the book was fantastic and the author was quite enjoyable. I will definitely read more Bromfield.

So this book struck me as something that transcends its time. He won the Pulitz
...more
Liz Chapman
Nov 16, 2011 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
Bookslut
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pulitzer
Yuck. There were a lot of good elements here, in the setting and the backstory, but once I knew Olivia would be sacrificed to endless Duty, I felt like it was pointless. And that happened pretty early in the book. The ending was weak, and the moral was dissatisfying and murky. Even the vocabulary was so limited, repetitive, and predictable. It seemed like a nondescript 1925 melodrama, and nothing that history can't easily leave behind.
Tim
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Louis Bromfield won the Pulitzer Prize for Early Autumn in 1927. The book is about a wealthy family in New England with a double life. It chronicles the struggle as in many families between the family which the world sees and the one which remains hidden. The story telling is great and is filled with secrets, infighting, deception and a keen focus on maintaining the family name at all cost. This book surprised me and I enjoyed it very much. I give it 5 stars.
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
Anna Gabur
Apr 12, 2013 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.
David
Aug 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book makes me hate books.

I guess people back then liked books where all kinds of extraneous details were shoved in for no good reason. This book should have been 20 pages long.
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
Realini
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: delightful, pulitzer
Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield


Early Autumn is an insightful, excellent, thought provoking, sad Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1927.

Among the main characters, the most important is Olivia Pentland, a tragic figure that at the same time inspires admiration, compassion, respect and melancholy, as she stands as the Last of the Mohicans, the sole representative of a family with a long tradition, which the protagonist rejects and embraces at once.
She has been married to Anson, when she was very youn
...more
Lynn
Oct 28, 2009 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 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
Vivi
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To me it was like reading John Galsworthy moving his characters to a different continent.
Loved it!

"And she reflected that a stranger coming to Pentlands would find it a pleasant, comfortable house, where the life was easy and even luxurious, where all of them were protected by wealth. He would find them all rather pleasant, normal, friendly people of a family respected and even distinguished. He would say, “Here is a world that is solid and comfortable and sound.”
Yes, it would appear thus to a s
...more
Maddy
I barely got into this and I was just feeling a "no" from it. Usually, I like historic romances but this was totally boring. After Howard's End, I think I should switch up my reading preferences for a while. I tried to read this for the A-Z classics challenge that I'm doing but I'm putting this aside to try other books for the challenge and to help clear my book shelves.

Maybe I just don't get the books that win the Pulitzer prize. So far the books I read that won the Pulitzer, I haven't really
...more
Anne Boardman
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was kind of a slow start, which many older, literary books are but it surely made up for last time in the last half of the book. I appreciated that I could get to know the characters well and understand the themes before jumping in with two feet. I kept thinking about the concept of having a wild, passionate nature balanced with the society people are brought up in and recognize as right and correct. And how wrong this can sometimes be. I can see why this won the Pulitzer.
Jerry Pogan
May 04, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the story of a wealthy New England family who can trace their family back to Revolutionary times and all of the drama and skeletons in their closet. The story of a wealthy family and their tribulations seems to be a common theme from books written in the early twentieth century, of which I've read several and I don't think I've really enjoyed any of them. This was a well written book but fairly boring.
Bonnie
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

A lot of Edith Wharton here:
-The House of Mirth - the cruel lot of women
-Age of Innocence - traditions grinding people down beneath them
-Ethan Frome - the desperation and despair of love

A tad bit of
-The Magnificent Ambersons
-The Forsyte Saga
-Buddenbrooks
i.e. Tales of family fortunes that disintegrate, the crumbling of great families over generations and time... Or is it just change, not crumbling?
Jimmy
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzers-read
Nice little book. Nothing earth-shattering about the storyline. It's basically about the turn of the 20th century societal transformation from staid New England colonial countryside elites to a new order. It's what I'd call a less impressive Edith Wharton novel with strong hints of an Americanized Jane Austin style of story. Fairly predictable melodrama around gendered old money society and familial relations. Worthy of the Pulitzer? Probably. But a rather forgettable winner.
Meg Ulmes
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading an older author like Bromfield has made me appreciate that many of today's authors lack depth and literary skill in their writing. This novel is both a sad story and a satire. The characters are all finely drawn real people who live in a world that any of us might inhabit. I highly recommend this book if you would like to read some high quality fiction.
Jeanine Malarsky
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-literary
I loved this book. It captures a time gone by with strong characters and a great story. This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1927. Louis Bromfield was in my American Literature text book in the 1950s. He died in 1956. Too many people today have not heard of him but some recognize movies based on his books, Mrs. Parkington and The Rains Came.
Lisa
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Story of the Pentland family in New England. They are an old moneyed family full of tradition, honor and all the snobbishness that comes with that. An inside look at all the hypocrisy and unhappiness that lies behind the façade of strength and history. Olivia works to free her daughter from a similar fate as she struggles with obligation versus the opportunity for happiness.
Kevin
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an interesting book centering on a wealthy family in the 1920's. It delves into the themes of love, marriage, hypocrisy and honor. The heroine of the story is approaching her fortieth birthday and unhappiness in her life sparks a type of mid-life crisis. I found the characters believable considering the setting. They mores discussed are somewhat dated but still manage to deliver messages that are relevant.
Stephen
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the dark undertones and varied cast of characters. Good suspense, not great, but in an effort to read the pp winners, it does have some unique aspects that keep it out of the cellar of winners.
Katrina
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 stars
Kim
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel tells the story of the very wealthy Pentland family that is settled in New England and what happens when a member of their family returns to town after a long absence. Sabine Callendar grew up in the Pentland family, conforming to all of their rigid rules regarding proper social behavior, but she fled in her mid-20s. Now she has returned with an 18 year old daughter and a strong independent spirit that defies Pentland tradition. Her arrival shakes things up, especially the life of Oli ...more
Joyce Lagow
Jul 14, 2009 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
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
Jessica
Dec 04, 2013 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
ShaLisa
Dec 23, 2013 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
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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
...more
“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.” 14 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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