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Miss Lulu Bett

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By: (1874-1938)

Miss Lulu Bett is a captivating novel that delves into the complexities of family dynamics and societal expectations in the early 20th century. The protagonist, Lulu Bett, is a meek and dutiful woman who has spent her life catering to the needs of her selfish and demanding family members. When a sudden turn of events leaves her in a position of unexpected independence, Lulu must navigate the challenges of asserting her own identity and finding her place in the world.

Zona Gale's writing is both poignant and insightful, capturing the struggles of a woman caught between tradition and her own desires. The characters are well-developed and relatable, with their flaws and vulnerabilities shining through in a way that makes them feel truly human. The novel is a poignant exploration of gender roles, class distinctions, and the search for personal fulfillment in a conformist society.

Overall, Miss Lulu Bett is a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant read that will stay with readers long after they have turned the final page. It is a timeless story that offers a powerful commentary on the limitations placed on women in the early 20th century, and the struggle for autonomy and self-fulfillment that transcends time and place. Highly recommended for fans of literary fiction and historical novels.

Book Description:
Lulu Bett is a spinster, living at the turn of the 20th century essentially as a servant with her sister Ina and brother-in-law Dwight. She is, uncomplainingly, "the family beast of burden," living in the background and tending to the family's needs. It therefore surprises everyone, Lulu included, when Dwight's visiting brother Ninian proposes to her, and she accepts. The surprise is even greater when Lulu returns home alone from their homeymoon trip, with the news that Ninian was already legally married before he married her. What follows brings Lulu into conflict with the self-satisfied Dwight, forcing her to choose how she defines herself, with unexpected results. This novel is the basis of the 1921 play for which Zona Gale became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The original ending of the play, in which Lulu gains freedom by walking away from the security of the family, was considered so controversial that a new ending was written. In this, the book, we see the author's original intent.

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