Howells’ best-known work and a subtle classic of its time, The Rise of Silas Lapham is an elegant tale of Boston society and manners.
After garnering a fortune in the paint business, Silas Lapham moves his family from their Vermont farm to the city of Boston in order to improve his social position. The consequences of this endeavor are both humorous and tragic as the greedy Silas brings his company to the brink of bankruptcy.
The novel focuses on important themes in the American literary tradition - the efficacy of self-help and determination, the ambiguous benefits of social and economic progress, and the continual contradiction between urban and pastoral values - and provides a paradigm of American culture in the Gilded Age.
“Again and again in Indian Summer, the felicity of the writing makes us pause in admiration.… A midlife crisis has rarely been sketched in fiction with better humor, with gentler comedy and more gracious acceptance of life’s irrevocability.” (John Updike on Indian Summer)
“[A] delicious novel of romance in late 19th-century Italy.” (Washington Post on Indian Summer)
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