Unleavened Bread Deliciously Substantial Story

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

Published by

Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

2 thoughts on “Unleavened Bread Deliciously Substantial Story”

    1. “Domestic Sociopath” is a great description of Selma. I wish I’d thought of it.

      Your blog Leaves and Pages is delightful. I was not aware of the Century of Books project. It’s a great idea. I’ll be look for your posts.

      Mrs. Miniver, which you plan to review is one of my favorite books. I read it nearly every New Years Day for the one chapter where she goes to buy an engagement calendar and very nearly gets one she knows would make her year less happy. That piece reminds me of the importance of little pleasures.


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