When the clock struck midnight ushering in 2022, thousands of works entered into the public domain, shorn of copyright.
This year, that included the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by local author Louis Bromfield. Early Autumn was published in 1926, and won the coveted Pulitzer the next year.
Bromfield was in good company in the 1920s in winning this prestigious award. The year before, the Pultizer for Best Novel went to Sinclair Lewis; the year following, Thornton Wilder won the award.
The book tells the story of a forthright woman who disrupts the social order of upper crust New England society. As described in one edition, “”Sabine Callendar had fled from the stifling propriety of Durham, New England twenty years ago. With a failed marriage behind her and an eighteen year old daughter to present to society, everyone is surprised to find that Sabine has returned, not as the pitiable and broken creature they expected, but as a strong and assured individual with an uncanny ability to see through the postures and pretenses of society that oppressed her as a girl. With her bold independence and forthright nature, Sabine challenges the social order and becomes a catalyst for changes in the lives of people around her.”
There were plans to turn the book into a movie, but those never came to fruition.
This is the third Bromfield book to enter the public domain. As shared back in 2020, The Green Bay Tree was the first to make that change, the work that returned to the author’s childhood days in Mansfield. Last year, the novel Possession also became freely available, the story of a Midwestern girl seeking to achieve the American dream.
It is possible to purchase a copy of Early Autumn, either online or by going to the local Barnes & Noble bookstore.
As we are now able to do freely, we share with our readers this quote from Early Autumn:
“I was brought up to look upon falling in love as something natural…something that was pleasant and natural and amusing. I’ve been in love before, casually, the way young Frenchmen are…but in earnest, too, because a Frenchman can’t help surrounding a thing like that with sentiment and romance. He can’t help it. If it were just … just something shameful and nasty, he couldn’t endure it. They don’t have affairs in cold blood the way I’ve heard men talk about such things since I’ve come here. It makes a difference, Mrs. Pentland, if you look at things in the light they do. I’ve learned now, and it is a thing which needs learning, the most important thing in all life. The French are right about it. They make a fine, wonderful thing of love.”
Photo: Bedroom, Malabar Farm taken by 1812Blockhouse