I first encountered Dorothy Canfield when I read The Home-maker earlier in the year, a Persephone republication about the role reversal between a husband and wife following the husband's disablement. However, I didn't quite connect the two until I read the introduction when I picked up Her son's wife on Monday from Oxfam as she is given her full name on the Persephone title of Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
Like The home-maker, Her son's wife is strongly concerned with family relationships. At the beginning, we meet Mrs Bascomb, a fifth-grade school teacher. The book opens with a parents evening, which I found entertaining, and then Mrs Bascomb returns home for supper with the first-grade teacher, Mary. It is immediately obvious that Mrs Bascomb hopes that Mary will marry her much cherished son, Ralph. However, after Mary leaves that night, Mrs Bascomb opens her mail to find out that Ralph, has given up law school and got married that day to Lottie. Not only is this a huge shock and out of character for her son, but the letter has a postscript "she is not your type mother, but she is alright". The new couple go to live with Mrs Bascomb, in order to enable Ralph to finish his diploma, and the first part of the book is about the friction between the couple and Mrs Bascomb. Eventually Lottie has a daughter, Dids, the reason for the sudden marriage, and Mrs Bascomb tries to free Dids as much as possible from Lottie's influence.
I liked this book very much because it was an interesting study of the four main characters - Mrs Bascomb, Ralph, Lottie, and Dids, and the way in which people are forced to examine their ideals. In some ways I felt that none of the characters got their behaviour "right", regarding their actions towards each other, but Dids grew up happily, and departs for college in the final chapter.
Just the one cover, the one I stumbled on in Oxfam for £2.49.