Set in a small town and an isolated farm in Georgia in 1941, LaVyrle Spencer's classic convenient marriage romance Morning Glory in some ways feels more like Americana stories set in the 19th century than the 20th. Until the war begins, it's a world of homemade lye soap and slop buckets, fresh eggs delivered in wagons, buttermilk kept cold in a well. Yet as I read it, certain parts seemed strangely familiar. It wasn't until I got to Elly's homebirth that I realized why: when I was pregnant, at around the same time the book was written, Elly was the woman every pregnant woman and mother I knew wanted to be.
Our very first image of our heroine Elly, through the eyes of our hero Will, is of a mother rather than a potential object of desire:
A woman appeared in the doorway of the house, one child on her hip, another burrowing into her skirts with a thumb in its mouth.
She is also, we shortly discover, “pregnant as hell.” And with her husband dead, she's the only adult on their farm, in charge of literally everything. But no matter how stressed she might be, she's devoted to her children: