by: Ernest Poole
"You will live on in our children's lives." - Judith Gale, His Family
His Family tells the story of Roger Gale and his struggle to really know and understand his three grown daughters after the passing of his wife. Before her death, she urged him to carefully remember all that the girls had done so that, "when you come after me, my dear, oh, how hungry I shall be for all you will tell me. For you will live on in our children's lives." This is the theme of the book as Roger tries desperately to keep up with his daughters and their families. Each of the daughters is strikingly different and each exemplifies a different stereotype of women in the years leading up to the "Roaring Twenties." Edith, the oldest, is the old fashioned mother and stay at home mom who strives diligently to have her children raised in a proper fashion. Her world revolves around her children. The middle child, Deborah, is the social reformer. She doesn't marry until she is older because she spends so much time working in the tenements in New York City and campaigning for women's suffrage. Laura is the youngest and is a perfect example of the early rise of the flapper. She lives the social life with no regard to the amount of money she is spending or to the feelings of her family around her.
This book is by far my favorite yet. My favorite period of history is the time from the end of the Civil War to right before World War II. It is fascinating to read this account of a family trying to move with the times at a very tumultuous time socially in American history. Some fight for the traditional values and some jump with all they have into a carefree life focused on 'self'. The book runs over into World War I and shows how a war in Europe affected Americans economically. The theme of family carrying on through generations and how generations affect each other is also fascinating. It is wonderful as Roger gradually realizes the importance of those who were before and the impact he will have on those after him.
The book is a very fast read. Many chapters end in the middle of a scene giving the reader the feeling that they must read on. By the end of the book you know the characters well and see their faults and strengths as Roger discovers them. It contains many good lessons for those of us today.