From the publisher: “Neal Austin describes the Wolfe family with humor and pathos: ‘W. Oliver Wolfe had been considered Asheville’s most eligible widower. He had money, a good business, and, in his fine clothes, he was a handsome mad. So he was not long single: pert, energetic Julia Westall became his third wife.’ By 1903, there were seven children. “Each child was Papa’s favorite; each had some special quality which allowed Oliver to say, ‘He’s the best of the bunch!’ and mean every word of it. There was Frank, whose life had been misshapen by his father’s sporadic drinking. Frank all too frequently had to bring Oliver home when he’d had too much to drink. Then there was Effie. Effie was a quiet, competent girl who always did what was expected of her. She went softly through life, never reaching heights or depths. Her sister, Mabel, was perhaps Oliver’s real favorite in most ways. She was volatile and earthy. She loved her family wit a strange fierceness and loyalty. Next were the twins, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. Grover was almost a sprite. Humorous, loving, laughing, chattering, Grover had a fine mind and a charming outlook on the world. His twin, Ben, was the strange one. Unlike his brothers and sisters, Ben had pale blue, quiet eyes and a sardonic, knowing smile. And there was Fred, the noisy, stammering, born-salesman. He always knew the treasures of the world were his for the taking. And finally, there was Tom. Tom had bright, shiny eyes. They were brown, but there was a light in them unlike the soft brownness of Grover’s. His lower lip was full and out-thrust; it was not a pouty lip, but a stubborn one.’”


A Biography of Thomas Wolfe