Thursday, September 6, 2012

His Family by Ernest Poole

4 stars - recommend
1918 Pulitzer Prize

His Family by Ernest Poole won the first Pulitzer Prize for a novel. 

The main character,  Walter Gale, a middle-aged widower, opens the book reflecting on his life past and his life to come as he settles into the prelude of retirement. The action takes place in New York City in the 1910's.

As a middle aged person myself, I immediately related to Walter. He felt that his life was just beginning and, sadly, realized that is the feeling one has just about for one's entire life. Things aren't too bad for old Walter.... until they are.

His three daughters don't follow a nicely prescribed course in their lives, and then of course there is the outbreak of World War I. Fortunes made, fortunes lost. What was most striking about this book was how resonant the struggles of the entire family were to me, living almost a century later.

Not much has changed in the human condition. His daughter, Deborah, was particularly interesting as she fought to live a life that was not really proper for a woman and developed a passion for helping inner city immigrants get a foothold in American society.

The writing style is quite accessible to the modern reader and I swallowed this one whole in the course of a few days.


  1. Another one that I probably wouldn't have appreciated in high school (it wasn't assigned) but sounds like something I'd like now. Time to go stock up on some good reading material!

    -Dr. Liz, who is now, with a sigh, going back to reading about how to evaluate fluoroscopy techniques.

  2. This sounds as if it may be depressing. I'll have to think about it.

  3. Not familiar with this author, but sounds intriguing. The point about going through life, facing each new decade and still thinking most of life is still ahead of us, sure rings true. Not quite sure whether it's more sad or optimistic; guess it depends on what else we've managed to get done in each decade.

    Have to ask: where is the header photo from? Looks like a mix of a library and a cathedral - perfect.