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The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson

The Able McLaughlins (1923)

by Margaret Wilson

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This won the 1924 Pulitzer prize for fiction, so I read it. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 30, 2013 |
Every now and then I need to read a book about good people going about their ordinary lives -- The Able McLaughlins filled the bill perfectly. This early (1924) Pulitzer Prize winner is a delightful read. ( )
  RebaRelishesReading | Sep 29, 2012 |
The setting of this post Civil War novel is the farm lands of Iowa.

Wully McLaughlin returns to his family's farm after escaping from the Confederates, where he had been taken prisoner. He relives his experiences in the War and finding his brother's body, frozen in the snow. The memories and experiences are reminiscent of "The Red Badge of Courage."

While at home, Wully visits a neighboring farm and Christie McNair. With the war and the emptiness of the surrounding area, Christie is lonely. She and Wully spend time together and share their first kiss. They come to an understanding that after the war, there will be a marriage.

When the war ends, Wully can't wait to see Christie again but when he does, she won't look him in the eye and makes plain that she doesn't want to see him. This shocks Wully and he does't know what to make of it.

He returns to her farm, secretly to see if he can learn more and finds her sitting on her front porch, in tears.

Unable to figure things out, he's on the road home when he meets Peter Keith, one of his cousins. He asks Peter if he knows why Christie is acting the way she is. Peter becomes very agitated and finally admits that he spent time with Christie when Wully was away and asked her to marry him. They have a heated discussion and Peter leaves the area in a cowardly manner.

Wully finally gets that Peter has made Christie pregnant and she is ashamed. The novel then goes into what he does to let Christie know that she is the only one for him and that he'll make thngs right. This is a well told portion as we see the strick moral view of the farmers and the compassion that Wully's mother has for her son and his wife.

The novel does meander and is overly long but offers a good description of frontier life and the struggles that farmers were going through in the cold, Iowa winters.

There is a particularly entertaining segment when a farmer who became a widower, returns to Scotland to find a new wife. He marries a woman of wealth and when she arrives at her new husband's farm, she finds that he had been living in little more than a sty. Her approach to imporving the home to make it inhabitable is memorable. ( )
  mikedraper | Sep 20, 2010 |
It is so easy for me to get bogged down in many of these books that require so much thinking. I have learned so much from the heavier books, but I often find myself looking forward to the novel that won each year. I know that for at least a week or two I will be able to relax. The Able McLauglins was, for me, a welcome respite. I could just sit back and read.

The story centers around a Scottish family in the Midwest during the late 1800s. It focuses mainly on the oldest son, Wully, who is a Civil War soldier returned from battle. We see him become a man as he woos his wife, builds his home, faces great heartache and pride, and, ultimately, triumphs over the great foe of his life.

I continue to enjoy the novels that take place in the Midwest. Until now the stories have mostly been about the developing cities of the Midwest. It was interesting to read a story focusing on the life of farmers on the plains. We often forget what the early pioneers had to endure. It is also interesting to see that many of the interpersonal problems that they dealt with are the same as problems we have today. Definitely an interesting and easy read. ( )
  curls_99 | Jul 28, 2008 |
The McLaughlins are a large, Scottish immigrant farming family in Iowa. Wully, recently home from the Civil War, falls in love with Chirstie who is pregnant with another man's child. The "scandalous" plot is not particularly compelling and there is an anti-climactic portion that drags without satisfactory resolution which may explain why no movie came from it. An easy read but one of the more forgettable Pulitzers, sorry to say. ( )
  Kelberts | Jun 2, 2008 |
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