While I was aware that this was a reprint of an old novel, the cover picture and title misled me into thinking it was a nice, romance novel. Also, it was free, and at approximately 337 pages, I looked forward to a nice, detailed but non-graphic, love story. But it was boring from page 1. It was set in a time when a young woman (Alice) couldn't look forward to anything except finding a reasonably wealthy man to marry. Since Alice was not really interested in this, her mother (Jenny Pasmer) spent her days trying to find a man for Alice. Mrs. Pasmer connives, flatters, flirts, and strategizes through chapter after chapter (and there are 50 chapters!). After I got through about 20 percent of the book, I was so bored that I just couldn't handle any more.
Of course, it's very possible that the book gets better and better and, I admit, it's hard to credit a negative review from someone who didn't read it all. But it wasn't my cup of tea in any way, and I just couldn't handle any more. Howells is obviously a very intelligent writer, but he used enough unfamiliar words that a fair bit of my time was spent using Kindle's dictionary look up feature. Ironically, that was more fun than reading the text!
So just be aware that this is a very slow read and I hope if you're prepared, you will enjoy it more than I did.
From his place on the floor of the Hemenway Gymnasium Mr. Elbridge G. Mavering looked on at the Class Day gaiety with the advantage which his stature, gave him over most people there. Hundreds of these were pretty girls, in a great variety of charming costumes, such as the eclecticism of modern fashion permits, and all sorts of ingenious compro-mises between walking dress and ball dress. It struck him that the young men on whose arms they hung, in promenading around the long oval within the crowd of stationary spectators, were very much younger than students used to be, whether they wore the dress-coats of the Seniors or the cut-away of the Juniors and Sophomores; and the young girls themselves did not look so old as he remembered them in his day. There was a band playing somewhere, and the galleries were well filled with spectators seated at their ease, and intent on the party-coloured turmoil of the floor, where from time to time the younger promenaders broke away from the ranks into a waltz, and after some turns drifted back, smiling and controlling their quick breath, and resumed their promenade. The place was intensely light, in the candour of a summer day which had no reserves; and the brilliancy was not broken by the simple decorations. Ropes of wild laurel twisted up the pine posts of the aisles, and swung in festoons overhead; masses of tropical plants in pots were set along between the posts on one side of the room; and on the other were the lunch tables, where a great many people were standing about, eating chicken and salmon salads, or strawberries and ice-cream, and drinking claret-cup.