His Family: The First Pulitzer Prize Winner 1918. A 2020 Reprint by Kenneth E. Bingham (Paperback)
The story begins in the spring of 1913 with Roger Gale, a New York businessman and a widower, owner of a media monitoring service, reflecting on the changes that have come to New York since his arrival in the city as a young man from a New Hampshire farm somewhere near the time of the Civil War. He is driven by his wife's dying request to remain close to their three daughters, yet he feels very distant from them-this despite the fact that the younger two (Deborah, a school principal, and Laura) live in the family home with him, and Edith, who is married with four children, visits him regularly.The early conflicts within the family largely surround Laura's sudden announcement of her engagement to Hal Sloane, a young businessman who is generally unknown to the family, and Edith's pregnancy, as her fifth child arrives weeks before his due date, endangering her life. After the baby's birth and Laura's wedding (and subsequent honeymoon to Europe), Roger's concerns turn to the one daughter remaining at home. Deborah works constantly at her school, and spends her free hours agitating for reforms and financial support to help the families living in the tenements. Roger is disturbed by this, especially given his prejudices against the immigrant families Deborah works with, but a visit to Deborah's school changes his perspective. He takes a crippled Irish boy named John into his care, providing him with lodging and a job in Roger's news clipping office downtown.When summer arrives, the family goes to spend most of it on the old family farm in New Hampshire. At the farm, Edith's oldest son, George, is happiest, pursuing his interest in becoming a farmer someday; Edith's husband, Bruce Cunningham, spends most of his time racing around the backroads on his brand-new automobile.That following winter, Roger becomes concerned about his daughter, Deborah, whose suitor Allan Baird, a doctor and friend of the family, seems to be giving up hope of marriage. Roger conspires with his daughter Edith and her husband Bruce to pressure Deborah, and she eventually accepts Allan's proposal (with the caveat that they wait until the end of the school year, so that a long honeymoon in Europe can be enjoyed).Before the date of the wedding is reached, Bruce is struck by a taxi while standing next to his car in the street. After his death, Edith and her children are forced to return to the family home, until Roger arranges for their return to New Hampshire and the family farm. Deborah's wedding to Allan is delayed as a consequence-she asks him to wait until August. The end of July, however, brings the onset of World War I, and Roger's business loses many of its clients. As a result, he can barely afford to support the family, taking out a mortgage on the home to make ends meet, and Deborah chooses to delay her wedding again until the spring.Given the family's financial straits, Edith's children have to be removed from their expensive private school and tutored from home by Edith herself. After weeks of this, Edith resolves to sell most of her possessions, and use the money for the children's school tuition. Edith also discovers that John, the Irish boy living in the home, has tuberculosis and orders Roger to send him away, which Deborah arranges for her father.Laura, who has been largely absent from family affairs, returns suddenly to the house, arriving with luggage and refusing to see anyone but her sister, Deborah. Her husband, Hal Sloane, has made a large amount of money through war profiteering, but she has fallen in love with his business partner, an Italian, and Hal intends to divorce her, publicly or privately, as a detective has brought him "proofs" that Laura has been unfaithful to him. Roger, who initially resists the divorce, relents when he learns of his daughter's indiscretions, and she elopes with her lover soon thereafter.