Hudson River Bracketed
by Edith Wharton
© 1929 - D. Appleton and Company
"Hudson River Bracketed" is the story of Vance Weston, a young man stepping into the "real world" and trying to figure out what his path in life is. It begins in Euphoria, Illinois, the small town he has spent most of his life in. His father is a real estate whiz and his mother is a housewife. The story begins with Vance at the age of nineteen, and follows him until his twenty sixth year.
After a devastating illness, he is sent back east to visit with his cousins as part of his recuperation. They live in Paul's Landing, in the country outside of New York City. The old houses on the hill have a view of the Hudson River, but Vance does not get that privilege as his cousins the Tracys live in a small house that does not even have a telephone. As soon as he sets foot in Paul's Landing, his head is full of poetry that he tries to write down as fast as it comes to him.
One day, he goes up with his cousins Upton and Laura Lou to an old house they are the caretakers for, and finds a library full of literary treasures he has never experienced. This house and others are built in a style called "Hudson River Bracketed", hence the title. The house is called "Willows", and was the home of Emily Lorburn, a family of "old money". It is at Willows that he meets Heloise Spear, nicknamed Halo, and begins a friendship that inspires him to write wonderful stories. The story follows Vance from this point in his life to publishing his first stories, getting married, and living in New York City.
I absolutely loved this story. It captured the agony and ecstasy of a writer's soul in a way that one couldn't help but understand. The characters were well thought out, interesting, and were easy to picture in your head. Edith Wharton outdid herself with this book. It is much more interesting than "The House of Mirth" and simply a fabulous story.
I would give this story 5 out of 5 stars.