MURIEL by George P. Elliott


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A depressingly interesting portrait of a lady out of the central Kansas flatlands whose pretensions of couth and moral gentility disappoint her at every turn until at the end, crimped and crumpled in her large body which is just a ""sack of fat,"" she is heard to observe plaintively ""Who would right her wrongs."" Muriel, a dentist's daughter and a member of the Episcopal Church, falls in love with Ed Bell -- he has a beautiful singing voice which she hopes to have trained while also improving his social tone (no more flour gravy and vinegar pie). But times are hard all through World War I and the depression as Ed tenant farms -- sows and corn -- and they live low off the hog even though she does finally achieve two children. Sometimes she wonders about her joyless reactions to the life of the flesh but she keeps her mind on higher things as the family goes on to California -- Ed makes bootleg liquor and drinks -- the children lead their own lives of increasing waywardness -- while Muriel devotes herself to clubs and the church and a final commitment, temperance. . . . A cautionary tale of a woman as charmless as her name which proves that all those peckish virtues are not only defeating but destructive. Only one of the hard-grained realities at hand validated by Elliott's tenacious honesty.

Publisher: Dutton