So Big (Kobo eBook)
First Published in 1924 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1925, Edna Ferber’s “So Big” is the fascinating tale of Selina Peak De Jong and her resilience in the face of a difficult marriage, widowhood, and single parenthood, set in the Dutch farming community of South Holland, Illinois near Chicago. Ferber based her courageous and resourceful heroine on the story of Antje Paarlberg, who was a Dutch immigrant and an enterprising farmer and widow in her Midwestern community. In the beginning, Selina is a school teacher in a rural community and she works hard to foster a love of art and beautiful things in her students. Soon she marries a Dutch farmer named Pervus and they have a son named Dirk, whom she nicknames “So Big”. Pervus falls ill and dies and Selina is left alone to try and keep the farm afloat. Selina struggles to preserve her dignity in a community that is often stern and judgmental and never loses her love of beauty and art. Ferber’s novel is full of complex and nuanced characters and her themes of ambition, sexism, and poverty continue to resonant with readers.