The short stories in this collection take the reader from small-town Wisconsin to the bustling streets of New York and Chicago and back again. While they range greatly in length and tone, they all share the trademark wit and affectionate insight of Edna Ferber.
Showcasing the facility with words that made her a mainstay at the Algonquin round table, Ferber explores some of her favorite themes: the role of women (especially strong or unconventional women) in modern society, the mores of the midwestern small town, and the changes over time in relationships between parents and children.
In "The Maternal Feminine," a plain, overlooked child grows into a strong, resourceful businesswoman and forms a strong motherly bond with the children of her more attractive sister. In "April 25th, As Usual," an aging Wisconsin couple reluctantly join their successful daughter in New York, where they try to adjust to a very different lifestyle. "Old Lady Mandle" is a bittersweet tale about an elderly Chicago mother coming to terms with the fact that she is no longer the most important woman in the life of her grown son. "One Hundred Per Cent" features Ferber's celebrated heroine Emma McChesney, now re-married, seeing her husband off to war.
The stories gathered here are beautifully observed chronicles of early twentieth-century life and are filled with characters who, despite their very human foibles, are all bestowed by Ferber with warmth and dignity.