Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Years of Grace - Winner, Novel, 1931

Years of Grace
By: Margaret Ayers Barnes
Hougton Mifflin Co., 1930

I have no witty or intelligent comments to begin this one with, so I'll just jump right into it. Years of Grace is the story of the life of Jane Ward, a young girl in the beginning who grows up in the Victorian Age and spends her latter years in the Jazz Age. Interesting, the book is divided into four sections: the first three are named for the man she loves at that time in her life and the last is named for her children and follows their love interests.

I won't go into the many details of Jane's life, but I believe I can summarize the story. Jane spends her early years ahead of her time. She is growing up in the Victorian Age with some very Jazz Age ideas. While the women of her mother's generation spend their time keeping up appearances of propriety while often living secret lives, Jane has very strong feelings that women should be free to make the choices that will make them happy - even if those choices are against what is considered socially acceptable. Then, Jane goes off to school, comes home, marries, has children, and eventually has her own secret life. As the Jazz Age replaces the Victorian Age, Jane's ideas begin their reversal. She sees her own children (especially her daughters) growing to be quite modern but with many of the same ideas Jane had as a young woman. On the other hand, Jane begins to think much more like her own mother did and values propriety as she never had before.

The point that Margaret Ayers Barnes is trying to make is, as in the words of King Solomon, "There is nothing new under the sun." Times may change, but, apparently, people do not.


Rebecca Reid said...

I didn't know anything about this book, but it sounds great. I like books about those time periods, and it sounds universal enough in themes to be great. It sounds like you liked it?

AK said...

I did like it, but there were also some plot lines I could have done without.

Camille said...

Hi! Just wanted to say that I'm glad to have found your blog and that I'm excited to come back to read more. I, too, have been reading the Pulitzer novels in order from 1918 but I hadn't thought about the nonfiction! So interesting. I'm in the middle of Early Autumn so I'm behind you but I love reading your takes on these books.

AK said...

That's exciting, Camille! Sometimes I think I'm crazy reading the nonfiction as well as the fiction, but I have learned SO much along the way. It's amazing how different names and places I never knew before start to pop out at me because I am now aware of them. Let me know how you feel about the novels as you make your way through!