"A Woman of Independent Means" is a heartwarming novel written by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey. Published in 1978, the book follows the life of Bess Steed Garner, a strong and determined woman who navigates through the changing times of the early 20th century. Through Bess's letters, the reader gets a glimpse into her personal and professional life, witnessing her triumphs, struggles, and enduring spirit.
The story begins in 1899 in Galveston, Texas, where Bess Steed is an ambitious young woman with dreams and aspirations. She is determined to live life on her own terms and not be dependent on a husband or anyone else. Bess's journey takes her through the tumultuous events of the early 20th century, including two world wars, the Great Depression, and the changing roles of women in society.
The novel takes place in various locations across the United States, including Galveston, Texas; New York City; and California. The setting changes as Bess moves through different phases of her life, reflecting the shifting landscape of the country and the times.
|Bess Steed Garner
|The protagonist of the story, Bess is a strong and independent woman who faces numerous challenges throughout her life. She is determined to succeed on her own terms and never compromises her values.
|Bess's first husband, a charming and charismatic man. Although their marriage starts off well, it eventually becomes strained due to Major's infidelity and alcoholism.
|Bess's second husband, a wealthy businessman who supports her ambitions and treats her with love and respect.
|Bess's sister, who remains a constant presence in her life and provides unwavering support and love.
|Bess's daughter, who struggles with her own identity and independence.
In the first chapter, Bess writes about her childhood in Galveston and her dreams of becoming a writer. She introduces her family and her aspirations for the future.
Bess enters adulthood, marries Major Garner, and starts a family. She faces challenges in her marriage due to Major's infidelity and alcoholism, which lead to their eventual separation.
Bess embraces her independence and starts her own business, a successful advertising agency. She becomes a trailblazer in a male-dominated industry, gaining recognition and respect for her work.
During World War I, Bess's beloved brother dies in combat, leaving her devastated. She becomes involved in charitable work to support the war effort and finds solace in helping others.
Bess experiences the excitement and prosperity of the Roaring Twenties. She enjoys newfound freedom and indulges in the cultural and social changes of the time.
The Great Depression hits, and Bess faces financial hardships. She is forced to make difficult decisions to keep her business afloat and support her family.
Bess's daughter, Caroline, joins the war effort as a nurse, and Bess worries for her safety. The war brings both joy and heartache as Bess's family and friends are affected by the conflict.
As the 20th century progresses, Bess witnesses the changing roles of women in society. She reflects on her own journey and the challenges she has overcome.
- Bess's marriage to Major Garner and the subsequent challenges they face in their relationship.
- Bess's establishment of her own successful advertising agency and her rise as a businesswoman.
- Bess's experiences during World War I and World War II, including the loss of loved ones and the sacrifices made by her family.
- Bess's relationship with her daughter, Caroline, and the struggles they both face in finding their independence and identity.
- Bess's journey through the changing times of the early 20th century, witnessing the Great Depression and the evolving roles of women in society.
- Independence and Determination: Bess's unwavering determination to live life on her own terms and not be defined by societal expectations is a central theme in the novel. She continuously pushes boundaries and refuses to compromise her values.
- Resilience and Adaptability: Bess faces numerous challenges throughout her life but always finds a way to bounce back and adapt to the changing circumstances. Her resilience is a testament to the human spirit.
- The Changing Role of Women: Through Bess's experiences, the novel explores the evolving roles of women in the early 20th century. It highlights the struggles and triumphs of women who dared to defy societal norms and pursue their dreams.
- Love and Loss: Love and loss are recurring themes in the book. Bess experiences both the joys and heartaches of love, and the losses she endures shape her character and perspective on life.
"A Woman of Independent Means" is a captivating novel that celebrates the strength and determination of women. Through Bess Steed Garner's journey, readers are reminded of the importance of staying true to oneself, overcoming obstacles, and embracing change. The book serves as an inspiring reminder that one can forge their own path and find fulfillment, even in the face of adversity.
Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey's "A Woman of Independent Means" is a timeless novel that captures the essence of a woman's journey through the changing times of the early 20th century. Through Bess Steed Garner's letters, the reader is transported into her world, witnessing her triumphs, struggles, and unwavering spirit. This book serves as a testament to the power of independence, resilience, and the enduring human spirit.