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Fanny Herself by Edna Ferber
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Fanny Herself (1917)

by Edna Ferber

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Interesting early 1900's story of a middle-American young Jewish girl setting out to claim success for herself in the opportunity-heavy world of business, mostly as a direct response to a childhood of sacrifice that did not fare well for her mother and a determination to blaze a different trail. Of course, women were not major players in business, yet she refused to buy into that and fought her way forward anyway. Lots of talk about Jewish identity, is it a race or religion, and quite a bit of denial of her roots....all with mixed results. Women's suffrage, worker's rights, zealous capitalism, and the start of WWI all made for a much headier book than i was anticipating from Ferber, having read several of hers already. Apparently a fair amount of autobiographical content in the initial setting of the story. I enjoyed Ferber's folksy writing style probably more than i enjoyed this story...she has a very charming way of writing that makes it feel like just the two you are sitting in a comfortable room somewhere and she is recounting this story to you in person.....warm, judgmental, intimate, and very honest. No regrets. ( )
  jeffome | Nov 9, 2013 |
Published in 1917 and 1913, respectively, these books represent early steps in Ferber's journey to her 1924 Pulitzer Prize. Fanny is the semiautobiographical story of a Jewish girl growing up in the Midwest. Roast Beef is the chronicle of Emma McChesney, a divorced mother and traveling sales rep for T.A. Buck's Featherloom Skirts and Petticoats. Both titles feature vintage illustrations and scholarly introductions.
(From Library Journal)
  CollegeReading | Jun 11, 2008 |
I'll admit it. I love old-fashioned novels. This one concerns a small town girl who makes it big in Chicago in the brand new field of the mail order catalog. She tries mightily to submerge her passionate human side in order to be a success in this male field. She does find success, but also finds she is losing her soul to Big Business. A boy from her small town home helps her find her way. Interesting look at small town Jewish culture before WWI. ( )
1 vote MerryMary | May 8, 2008 |
29902706 . Edna Ferber; Berno Fabo bks Amsterdamo, Populara Esperanto-Biblioteko [19--] 26/12/2007 6:42
  AEA | Mar 20, 2008 |
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To William Allen White
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Preface

It has become the fashion among novelists to introduce their hero in knee pants, their heroine in pinafore and pigtails. Time was when we were rushed up to a stalwart young man of twenty-four, who was presented as the pivot about whom the plot would revolve. Now we are led, protesting, up to a grubby urchin of five and are invited to watch him through twenty years of minutiae. In extreme cases we have been obliged to witness his evolution from swaddling clothes to dresses, from dresses to shorts (he is so often English), from shorts to Etons.
The thrill we get for our pains is when, at twenty-five, he jumps over the traces and marries the young lady we met in her cradle on page two…
…With which modest preamble you are asked to be patient with Miss Fanny Brandeis, aged thirteen. Not only must you suffer Fanny, but Fanny’s mother as well, without whom there could be no understanding Fanny. For that matter, we shouldn’t wonder if Mrs. Brandeis were to turn out the heroine in the end. She is that kind of person.
Chapter 1

You could not have lived a week in Winnebago without being aware of Mrs. Brandeis. In a town of ten thousand, where everyone was a personality, from Hen Cody, the drayman, in blue overalls (magically transformed on Sunday mornings into a suave black-broadcloth usher at the Congregational Church), to A. J. Dawes, who owned the waterworks before the city bought it. Mrs. Brandeis was a super-personality.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0252069463, Paperback)

Heralded by one reviewer as 'the most serious, extended and dignified of [Edna] Ferber's books', "Fanny Herself" is the intensely personal chronicle of a young girl growing up Jewish in a small midwestern town. Packed with the warmth and the wry, sidelong wit that made Ferber one of the best-loved writers of her time, the novel charts Fanny's emotional growth through her relationship with her mother, the shrewd, sympathetic Molly Brandeis. 'You could not have lived a week in Winnebago without being aware of Mrs. Brandeis', Ferber begins, and likewise the story of Fanny Brandeis is inextricable from that of her vigorous, enterprising mother. Molly Brandeis is the owner and operator of Brandeis' Bazaar, a modest general store left to her by her idealistic, commercially inept late husband. As Fanny strives to carve out her own sense of herself, Molly becomes the standard by which she measures her intellectual and spiritual progress. Fanny's ambivalent feelings about being Jewish, her self-deprecating attitude toward her gift for sketching and drawing, and her inspired success as a businesswoman all contribute to the flesh-and-blood complexity of Ferber's youthful, eminently believable protagonist. She is accompanied on her journey by impeccably drawn characters such as Father Fitzpatrick, the Catholic priest in Winnebago; Ella Monahan, buyer for the glove department of the Haynes-Cooper mail order house; Fanny's brother, Theodore, a gifted violinist for whose musical education Molly sacrifices Fanny's future; and, Clarence Heyl, the scrappy columnist who never forgot how Fanny rescued him from the school bullies. Ferber's only work of fiction with a strong autobiographical element, "Fanny Herself" showcases the author's enduring interest in the capacity of strong women to transcend the limitations of their environment and control their own circumstances. Through Fanny's honest struggle with conflicting values - financial security and corporate success versus altruism and artistic integrity - Ferber grapples with some of the most deeply embedded contradictions of the American spirit.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:53 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Fanny Brandeis is a small-town midwestern Jewish girl determined to succeed as a businesswoman in the big city, while grappling to remain true to her roots. This semi-autobiographical 1917 novel was one of Ferber's most celebrated books. It also showcases her trademark wry wit.… (more)

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