Vermont to its core, and showing once again Dorothy Canfield's
shrewd understanding of village psychology. Each character is
individual, not merely a type, and in the conflict precipitated by
a bequest with a string attached, the fundamentals of Yankee
tradition are sharply etched. The story revolves around the
principal of the small-town Academy Timothy Hulme, with his tender
protective love for his old aunt, his inarticulate love for young
Susan, his idealistic passion for independent thought and action. A
completely American book, in which world problems are seen through
the wrong end of the opera glass, in miniature. Here is an author
who has the gift for telling a homely story with such a sense of
humanity that she gives it deep significance. A book for sure sales
and rentals. (Kirkus Reviews)
"Nobody values anything for its endurance nowadays," T. C. Hulme,
headmaster of the Clifford, Vermont Academy muses. Long devoted to
the school and to his eccentric aunt, T. C. is increasingly aware
that life is passing him by. His hopes are renewed when he falls in
love with a new teacher 20 years his junior. But as Dorothy
Canfield Fisher shows, neither love nor Academy life runs smooth.
A younger suitor steps in, and a rich, out-of-state trustee dies
and leaves the Academy a million-dollar "gift" in his will. The
codicils are troubling, however: Jews must be excluded, girls
ousted, and local students squeezed out by a tuition hike. The
affront to a Yankee sense of fair play is clear, but the school
desperately needs funds. Thus T. C. and the town confront a
struggle between the "old" virtues of tolerance, integrity, and
civic responsibility and "modern" attitudes of expediency,
exclusionism, and outside control.
Originally published in 1939, Fisher's last novel is remarkably
prescient in its defense of human rights and the ramifications of
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