Edith Summers Kelley
In feminist terms, the harsh life of tobacco share croppers in the early 20th century.
Publication Date: 11-01-1996
Afterword by Charlotte Margolis Goodman
First published in 1923, Weeds is set amid the tobacco tenant farms of rural Kentucky. This pioneering naturalist novel tells the story of a hard-working, spirited young woman who finds herself in a soul-destroying battle with the imprisoning duties of motherhood and of managing an impoverished household. The novel is particularly noteworthy for its heartbreaking depiction of a woman who suffers not from a lack of love, but from an unrequited longing for self-expression and freedom.
"If there could be such a thing as a 21-gun salute for a novel fortuitously rescued from oblivion, Weeds richly merits it, for Edith Summers Kelley's book is unquestionably a major work of American fiction. . . . It is remarkable for its compassionate realism, its narrative pace, its sensitive evocation of character and for its sure literary craftmanship. . . . [Weeds] is a book that will astonish and enrich anyone who reads it. And anyone should be everyone." —New York Times Book Review
"This beautiful novel, which saw its first publication in 1923, is the story of Judith Pippinger Blackford, a Kentucky farm girl whose bright, responsive, and perhaps talented nature is gradually dulled by the sordid limitation of her life. . . . It would be a pity for anyone to miss this statuesque book." —New Yorker
"Edith Kelley had much in common with Sherwood Anderson and her friend, Sinclair Lewis. Her novel is effective, poignant, well observed, distinguished of its kind. It should win a place in courses on modern literature and women's studies." —Choice