Title: The Able McLaughlins
Author: Margaret Wilson
Published: 1923 (Pulitzer in 1924)
Recommendation: Don’t bother
If you like: Old Books, Other Cultures
(This review contains spoilers)
Wully McLaughlin is the son of Scottish immigrants to America. His father brought the family west to Iowa, where they’ve settled and spend their days farming. Wully was a soldier in the Civil War. When he comes home, he discovers that something terrible has happened to Christie, the woman he loves. She was raped by Wully’s cousin and now she’s pregnant. Wully does everything he can to “save” her. He forces the cousin to leave the area without telling anyone what has happened. Then he quickly marries Christie. When it becomes obvious that she’s having a baby much too early, he claims the baby as his own and takes all the shame on himself. The remainder of the book deals with the fallout.
The portrait of Scottish immigrants is interesting. The dialect and accents are well done. But the writing often felt simplistic. The topic could lend itself to a lot of drama and tension, but it doesn’t really. There was only one place where I found myself not wanting to put the book down (when the cousin comes back but can’t be found), but the tension fizzled without a satisfactory climax.
It’s not a bad book, but there are so many better ones out there. With so many books and so little time, I wouldn’t bother with this one.