Emma McChesney

October 23, 2009

There are, apparently, three books of stories about Emma McChesney, a travelling saleswoman, but I wish there were more. They’re by Edna Ferber, and they are…kind of fantastic, actually. I was skeptical, and I shouldn’t have been.

Emma McChesney is in her mid thirties, but looks younger. She has a teenage son named Jock, who has both faults and flashes of brilliance. She travels for the T.A. Buck Featherloom Skirt Company, and she is almost, but not quite, too good to be true.

The stories all show Emma McChesney in pretty much the same light — full of common sense, but not above feeling foolish sometimes. She has a knack for business only equaled by her knack for dealing with people. She’s awesome, and everyone knows it. If they don’t, they learn pretty quickly.

Something else I really like: Emma McChesney ages, and her life changes a lot over the three books. Ferber tells us Emma’s and Jock’s ages at intervals, and Emma’s hard work and experience help her to advance in the T.A. Buck Company, and even when she gets as high as she can go, she doesn’t stop working and innovating. And nothing comes too easily, which makes the nice things that do happen all the nicer. Emma McChesney isn’t perfect, but she’s one of the best female role models I’ve ever come across.

In Roast Beef, Medium, Emma McChesney travels for T.A. Buck, takes some time out to keep her son on the right track, and gets a new job.

In Personality Plus, Jock McChesney finds his share of success, and is sometimes almost as cool as his mother.

In Emma McChesney and Co., Emma gets what, in any other book, would be considered a happy ending, just — well before the middle of the book.


  1. I love Emma McChesney and am so happy that someone else has read her!

    I’ve found some very interesting books at your blog, by the way.

  2. I think I first heard of the books on your blog, actually, but the idea of reading them took a while to percolate. So…thank you!

  3. Hi — thanks for reminding me again about your blog. It’s entertaining and I love how you champion a world of books I know nothing about; it makes me want to investigate them myself sometime. It doesn’t help figure out a gift but that’s really OK since it’s not your job to tell people what to get you. I do wonder what would draw you to some of the books I like — hmm…


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