Posts Tagged ‘Sinclair Lewis’

The saying, “It is better to give than receive,” has definite merit, at least when I think about the best gifts I have ever given, and how much joy the giving has given back.

My blogging friend at Mamas Empty Nest just shared her story of finding the perfect gift for a beloved sister. And her post got me thinking when she said it was “…the best gift I have ever given to another person.”

In 1959 and my Mom announced she was searching for a special book, written by Grace Hegger Lewis (first wife of Sinclair Lewis) and entitled Half a Loaf.  It was published in 1931.


So began a fifteen year search (before the wonders of the internet) for Half a Loaf.   I remember we scoured book stores and inquired at every library to no avail.  I  began to think it was a mission impossible.

But Christmas of 1974 was fast approaching and I finally discovered a first edition in an antique store!

The Book

I could hardly wait until Christmas morning!  And of course, my mother’s thrill was my thrill too, and we were both grinning and delighted with each other.  In a way it was sad that our search was over but  we would find other adventures to share.   At that moment her joy was all that mattered and her surprise was more satisfying to me than anything else under the tree.


In today’s world, we can find almost anything with the touch of a few keys.

Still, out of curiosity, and even though I have Mom’s book on my shelves now, I went online to see just how fast I could find it (or any information on it) today.  I was stunned to learn it is considered a rare book and even listed as “scarce, scarce, scarce.” I could find no cover photos and no write-ups or reviews either, not even on Amazon.

The little book seems as obscure now as it was in 1959, but at least the search for it took minutes this time instead of fifteen years, and it is available from just a few sellers of rare books.


Returning to my bookshelf this morning, I retrieved the little book and turned its pages once again, so many years later.  Mom died in 1993 and she left it for me to rediscover this morning.

As I gently turned the yellowing pages, something fell out!  I thought it was a newspaper clipping but it turned out to be a crumbling dust jacket with a synopsis.   I felt tears coming at the same time as an intense joy.  Once again I was holding something my Mom had held.  She had cherished it so much she  saved the old book’s dust cover folded between its pages and until now, I never even knew it was there.

The book and its cover

The Book and Its Cover

Half a Loaf was the best gift I have ever given to another person and proof that there is definitely more joy in giving than receiving.

What is the best gift you have given to another person?

From the Dust Cover of Half a Loaf:

“This is the story of what it means to be a successful author’s wife – told by a successful author’s former wife.  Half a Loaf is romantic and realistic.  Romantic because the two chief characters were young and in love when success came to them and because they continued, almost to the end, to find adventuring on an open road of more importance than emeralds in Cartier settings.  Realistic because Mrs. Lewis reveals with piercing insight that when a woman marries an author, she marries not only the man who loves her but also the author – the author who unconsciously becomes, in their creation, the characters he is creating, and who unconsciously becomes the person his reading public has invented.”

About Sinclair Lewis:

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short story writer, and playwrite. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters.  His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American society and capitalist values, as well as for their strong characterizations of modern working women.


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