The Little Lady Of The Big House

(book review)

“I am very proud of The Little Lady of the Big House. It is a novel entirely new and different than anything I have written so far.” –
Jack London.

This book has the same lead as the popular American movie “Love Actually”: “It’s All About Love … Actually.” I do not mean the romantic part of this book. I mean that there is love everywhere, in everything and every moment. That’s why I love this book. It is a very emotional and beautiful story of people that have great values, principles, life views, that are successful, loved, and rich. And yet they can suffer, they can feel pain, they can become weak, but they don’t make others to suffer, they don’t behave ugly towards each other. They respect each other’s feelings and happiness and freedom of making choices.

London told us about Dick Forrest who owns a sizeable chunk of farmland in northern California. A thoroughly modern agriculturalist, he raises all manner of livestock and crops, all of the highest quality, using the latest, most advanced scientific methods. Ensconced within these fertile lands is his home, a palatial estate combining the best of traditional and modern architecture. In his youth, Dick led a life of adventure, and now that he has put down some roots, he applies the same adventurous spirit to his agricultural ventures. In this pleasant and prosperous life, his wife Paula shares his life, an exceptionally attractive woman who likewise succeeds at all she touches. She plays piano like a professional pianist and breeds horses like a professor of animal husbandry. This remarkable couple surrounds themselves with a rotating entourage of family, friends, and scholarships. Every night is a dinner party in which wine and song are accompanied by spirited debates on various and sundry topics. Thus, the reader is treated to chapters on philosophy, music, poetry, animal husbandry, and — not uncommon for London — the superiority of the white race. Into this eclectic intellectual enclave wanders Evan Graham, an old friend who is described as being almost exactly like Dick, but a bachelor. He quickly develops an attraction towards Paula, admires her secretly, and tries to ascertain if the feeling is mutual.

Because of his affinity for Dick and Paula, London spends so much time describing this idealized couple and their varied interests that there is very little room left for the plot.

Thankfully, in the latter third of the book, the love triangle actually gets quite catching. Often in the literature, a character’s faults contribute to the situation they find themselves in, but that’s not the case here, simply because London doesn’t allow his three lead characters to have any faults.

Despite all, I think it is glamorized and romanticized Paula and her behavior. Dick Forrest also came off as unrealistic and weirdly idealized with his ranch and his hyper-efficiency and loads of money and joviality.

But as a look into another time and London’s version of an ideal world, it was interesting. So I recommend this book to read at least once in your life because you should figure out the sense of London’s mind by yourself.

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