Sno Valley Center Center Library

Sno Valley Senior Center Library

The Girls

By: Lori Lansens

First published in 1921, Edna Ferber’s The Girls revolves around the “three Charlottes” of the Thrift family—Great-Aunt Charlotte, her niece Lottie, and Lottie’s niece Charley. All single “old maids,” as the narrator describes them, their lives weave together as they deal with issues involving money, work, friendship, family, and love as they strive to join Chicago’s growing middle class in the early twentieth century. With a historic span that travels from the Civil War to World War I, Ferber highlights how the three generations of Charlottes lead very different lives. But we also see the ways their experiences rhyme with one another and how, despite the social advances in America, as Kathleen Rooney writes in her introduction, all three have to confront “a sexist and claustrophobic societal atmosphere in which any little act of self-assertion can feel like a leap from a precipice.”