Pembroke: A Novel
Decades before Peyton Place unbuttoned the straitlaced New England of the popular imagination, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's Pembroke (1894) captivated readers with its realist account of the dark underside of an insular New England village. The compelling novel centers on three couples whose relationships are thwarted by family strife, repressed emotions, strong-willed pride, and religious self-righteousness. Pembroke begins with a heated political argument between Barney Thayer and Cephas Barnard, the father of Barney's betrothed, Charlotte Barnard. The angry Cephas throws his prospective son-in-law out of the house and, because of his immense pride, Barney refuses to apologize, even though it means he cannot marry Charlotte. The Thayers and Barnards become locked in a clash of wills, and the broken engagement reverberates throughout the village, ultimately affecting the relationships of two other couples in the town. After years of seemingly interminable suffering, all of the ill-fated lovers are eventually united, but the reunions are bittersweet. In sharp contrast to the romantic literary tradition, Pembroke vividly depicts characters doomed to inherit the unhappiness of their anc
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