Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Esther Waters
George Moore (1852–1933)
Esther Waters; a novel by George Moore (1894). An English servant girl, Esther Waters, a member of the narrow religious sect of the Plymouth Brethren, takes her first situation in a horse-racing household in the country. The master owns winning horses, and the servants quarrel over their sweepstakes. The mistress belongs to the Plymouth Brethren, and therefore takes a special interest in her new kitchenmaid. The dashing footman, William, makes love to Esther, and then deserts her to elope with a rich young cousin of the family. Esther is dismissed from the house when it is discovered that she will soon be a mother. Her drunken stepfather takes most of her money from her, and when she is turned out of the hospital before she is able to work, she has to leave her baby with a baby-farmer and go out as a wet-nurse. She finds that the woman is letting her baby die of neglect and gives up her place and goes to the workhouse to keep her baby. The book is the story of Esther’s plucky devoted maternity. By hard struggle she manages to support her boy. A young man becomes her friend and brings her again to the Plymouth Brethren. Just as they are going to be married, William turns up again, a bookmaker and keeper of a public house. He wins her from the marriage, because he is able to provide for her child. She goes to live with him, and after his divorce, they are married and very happy. There is illegal betting in the bar parlor, and William is fined and loses his license. He becomes ill from exposure in bad weather at the races and dies leaving Esther with nothing. She almost has to go to the workhouse again. Her first mistress, who is a widow and alone, takes her back, and helps support Esther’s son until he is a fine young soldier. This novel pictures the evil results of betting among the British working class, the language and habits of the lower sporting world, and the horrors of baby-farming and lying-in hospitals. Its method is severely realistic.  1

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