As Robert Grant’s Unleavened Bread opens, Selma White is becoming engaged to Lewis Babcock and giving up teaching — which she didn’t find “satisfying” anyway — for city life.
Benham society, however, fails to appreciate Selma’s gifts as much as it appreciates the money Lewis Babcock’s varnish business makes.
Selma throws herself into committee work and at the New York City architect designing the new church. While Selma is “saying goodbye” to the architect, their daughter dies of croup.
Selma divorces Lewis, whose unjust comments about her neglect of her child cut her cruelly.
Selma is scrimping along on her earnings from writing — the Benham press fails to appreciate talent such as hers — when the architect reappears, proposes, and the two marry that evening.
New York City also fails to appreciate Selma.
The upper eschelons of society are closed to her — not that Selma wants to fit into society — but as she tells her husband, “What I don’t understand is why such people should be allowed to exist in this country.”
Selma’s second marriage disintegrates long before her husband’s untimely death.
She deplored with a grief which depleted the curve of her oval cheeks the premature end of her husband’s artistic career — an aspiring soul cut off on the threshold of success — yet, though of course she never squarely made the reflection, she was aware that the development of her own life was more intrinsically valuable to the world than his, and that of the two it was best that he should be taken.
Selma moves back to Benham and marries a politician whose patriotism, spirituality, and gift for self-deception match Selma’s own.
Unleavened Bread deserves to be a Masterpiece Classic.Unleavened Bread by Robert Grant Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900 1900 bestseller #3 Project Gutenberg ebook #14645 My grade: A-
© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni