Clara Jaeger was 22 when she began work as secretary to one of the leading American novelists of the day.
Her protected Quaker upbringing had hardly prepared her for life in New York’s radical literary circles of the 1930s. Yet her dissatisfaction with her well-ordered bourgeois existence made her receptive to the challenge of Dreiser’s thinking.
Dreiser opened her eyes to the world. But the inner conflict remained - how to combine her social concern with the faith of her childhood. ln a world of contradictions, where could she find a purpose that would dispel the despair of years?
We follow Clara from an idyllic life as a child in Germantown, Philadelphia, through Dreiser’s New York, to her marriage to an Englishman, William Jaeger, whose background of poverty contrasted sharply with hers. She describes her struggles to adapt to life in England, to build a relationship with her son and to break through the pressures of duty and conformity to a rebirth of faith and joy.
She writes mainly of life in America, but England, and especially Cornwall and a home in a Hertfordshire village, is the setting for her richest experiences.