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For Educators

A Novel
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman; Charles Johanningsmeier, intro.

Expected: (paperback)

Northeastern University Press
2002 • 304 pp. 13 illus. 5 x 8"
Fiction & Literature / Literary Criticism - American / Women's Studies / 19th Century Literature

$9.95 Paperback, 978-1-55553-515-5

Generations before Peyton Place, there was Pembroke (1894), a novel that exposed the dark underside of an insular New England village.

This compelling novel centers on three couples whose relationships are thwarted by family strife, repressed emotions, strong-willed pride, and religious self-righteousness.

Pembroke begins with a heated political argument between Barney Thayer and Cephas Barnard, the father of Barney's betrothed, Charlotte Barnard. The angry Cephas throws his prospective son-in-law out of the house and, because of his immense pride, Barney refuses to apologize, even though it means he cannot marry Charlotte. The Thayers and Barnards become locked in a clash of wills, and the broken engagement reverberates throughout the village, ultimately affecting the relationships of two other couples in the town. After years of seemingly interminable suffering, all of the ill-fated lovers are eventually united, but the reunions are bittersweet.

In sharp contrast to the romantic literary tradition, Pembroke vividly depicts characters doomed to inherit the unhappiness of their ancestors. This dramatic and realistic portrayal of rural nineteenth-century New England life and Puritan ethos will reintroduce modern readers to a significant regionalist woman writer.

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (1852-1930) was born in Randolph, Massachusetts, and died in Metuchen, New Jersey. Among her published regional short fiction and novels are A Humble Romance and Other Stories, A New England Nun and Other Stories, Jane Field, and The Portion of Labor. In 1926 she received the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for distinction in fiction. That same year, she and Edith Wharton were among the first women to be elected to membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Charles Johanningsmeier is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He is the author of Fiction and the American Literary Marketplace: The Role of Newspaper Syndicates in America, 1860-1900.

Sun, 2 Feb 2014 10:28:02 -0500