A Rage to Live (1949) is a magnificent, under-appreciated novel, in which John O'Hara's writing style entered a new dimension. In reviewing his past novels and stories, I found no hint of this change, which was to last throughout the rest of his career.

On June 2, 1903, Grace Brock Caldwell married Sidney Tate at the Caldwell Farm, some ten miles north of Fort Penn (Harrisburg, Pa.).

The description of the wedding is several pages, but here are some excerpts:

   The wedding was conceded to be the biggest thing of its kind in Fort Penn. Everybody agreed on that, from the very small group who actually witnessed the ceremony to the thousands who knew all about it....

   After they were made as one the bride and groom stepped into their victoria under a shower of rice, confetti, and serpentines. In honor of the occasion Higgins, the coachman, and his son had been fitted out in silk hats with cockades, black whipcord tailcoats, white doeskin breeches, and hunting-style boots, and they wore starched socks. Prince and Duke, Emily Caldwell's chestnut cobs, were used, and they were in silver-mounted harness, the set which was erroneously believed to have solid silver hames. The happy couple, followed by the bridal party in equally smart turnouts, proceeded to the Caldwell house. There Grace was taken by her husband to Will Caldwell's den, and in the presence of those ushers who were members of the Yale secret society called Death's Head, she was initiated with the brief ceremony reserved for all brides of Death's Head men. This solemn ritual concluded according to the rubrics, the bride and groom were permitted to continue with the schedule, which allowed fifteen minutes for bride, maid of honor, bridesmaids, bridegroom, best man, and ushers to empty their bladders, then to stand in line under one of the militia's tents until Sally Wall, a bridesmaid, keeled over in a faint, and two more bridesmaids appeared to be about to follow suit. At that point some six hundred men, women, and children had observed the amenities, but at least two hundred more were deprived of the pleasure of shaking hands with the ladies and gentlemen on the receiving line. For the first time in four strenuous hours (except for her rides in the victoria and her visit to the bathroom) Grace sat down, at the U-shaped table. The primary toasts were drunk and then Sidney and Grace took to the tennis court, now boarded over for dancing....

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