Nine years before Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening (1899), she self-published her first novel, At Fault, which exhibits the same skill characteristic of all her writing. At Fault plays out on the Place-du-Bois plantation on the Cane River in northwestern Louisiana. Thérèse Lafirme is widowed at age thirty-two and left alone to run her plantation. When she falls in love with David Hosmer, a divorced businessman, her strong moral and religious convictions make it impossible for her to accept his marriage proposal…
Born on February 8, 1851, in St. Louis, Missouri, Chopin was the daughter of Thomas O’Flaherty, a prominent businessman, and Eliza Faris. Chopin’s father died when she was four years old, and her childhood was profoundly influenced by her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, who were descendants of French Creole pioneers. Chopin also spent time with her family’s Creole and mulatto slaves, whose dialects she mastered. In 1870, she married a wealthy Creole cotton magnate, Oscar Chopin, and moved with him to New Orleans. After the death of her husband, Chopin left Louisiana to live with her mother in St. Louis. Family friends, who had found her letters entertaining, encouraged Chopin to write professionally, and she soon began writing short stories.
In 1899, Chopin completed her ambitious novel The Awakening, which was received with hostility by critics despite general acknowledgement of Chopin’s mature writing skills. She wrote little during the rest of her life and died of a cerebral hemorrhage on August 22, 1904.
Natchitoches Enterprise — While we have nothing but praise for the delineation or her characters and for the literary merits of the work—we find that the love or love-making which existed and was somewhat continuos between Thérèse and Hosmer, to be out of place, or in other words improper.
The Nation — There is the lady who drinks and the gentleman who gets a divorce from her, the widow who loves and is beloved by him. There is also the young lady or many arrangements, the negro who commits arson, the young gentleman who shoots him, the colonel who shoots the young gentleman, the St. Louis lady who goes to matinées and runs off with the matinée-going gentleman.
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