Life for society women in the 1920s had its own constraints, the image of "family" was stronger than "self" as was the idea of a woman's freedom.
In "Early Autumn," the Pulitzer Prize winner of 1927, we have a story of a wealthy family, its place in the society of the times and the rigid rules of family members who are almost members of New England aristocracy.
The story opens with the celebration of Olivia Portland's eighteen-year-old daughter, Sybil,who is being presented to Boston society. Also being presented is her friend and neighbor, Therese Callendar.
Olivia is the strength of the family. She hasn't turned age forty and doesn't seem to have any time for herself. Her husband spends his time working with charities or on family geniality. He lives on an income from his father - who doesn't trust him to run the family business.
At a time without television, one means of entertainment for society women was to visit from home to home and learn the latest gossip. This is the case for Aunt Cassie, (the family busy body) and Sabine Callendar. The women don't like each other and the author describes them as "...two hostile cats watching each other for days at a time, stealthily."
Bloomfield's wit is in evidence when we hear Aunt Cassie talking about joining her late husband in heaven, while Sabine shares her thoughts with the reader, that the husband didn't care that much for his wife on earth so the reunion might not be as pleasant as his wife had anticipated.
Olivia seems forced to live in a world filled with traditions but little love. She does see her daughter trying to escape this family web and it gives her a glimmer of hope.
She meets a man who brings the thrill of love and new meaning to life. But, can a woman of society in the 1920s ask for divorce? What if her husband refuses to give it?
This is an interesting story to give a view of society and their ideas of family during this point in history.