"The Wife of His Youth; and Other Stories of the Color Line," by Charles W. Chesnutt. With illustrations by Clyde O. De Land. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.: Boston and New York. Price $1.50.
In this very attractive volume are gathered nine stories by Charles W. Chesnutt--"stories of the color line," he aptly calls them. Each is unique, each a gem, but perhaps the most interesting and touching is the one that gives title to the book--"The Wife of His Youth." Mr. Ryder was the most prominent member of the "Blue Veins," a little society of colored persons in the North, of which the unwritten requirement for eligibility to membership was "white blood enough to show blue veins," free birth, and character and culture. Mr. Ryder had decided to give a ball that should mark an epoch in the social history of Groveland--a ball given in honor of a lady visitor to the town from Washington. with whom he had fallen deeply in love. But on the afternoon of the day of the ball a little old black woman--a relic of plantation life--called. She was in search of her husband of slave days--had been looking for him for twenty-five years. How she proved to be the wife of Mr. Ryder’s youth, much older than he, and how with true manliness he acknowledged her as such that evening before his assembled guests and the woman he had learned to love, you must read the book to find out. The titles of the other stories are: "Her Virginia Mammy," "The Sheriff’s Children," "A Matter of Principle," "Cicely’s Dream," "The Passing of Grandison," "Uncle Wellington’s Wives," "The Bouquet," "The Web of Circumstance."
Rev. of The Wife of His Youth in "Our Holliday Book Table," Zion's Herald 77 (Dec. 6, 1899): 1570. [See also "Book Notices," The Methodist Magazine and Review [Toronto] 52 (Aug. 1900): 191-92.]