A never-before-published novel of white characters struggling to understand the true nature of manhood
The critique of white male society that Charles W. Chesnutt launched in A Marrow of Tradition continues in Evelyn's Husband, one of six manuscripts left unpublished when this highly regarded African American innovator died.
Set in Boston society, on a deserted Caribbean island, and in Brazil, Evelyn's Husbandis the story of two men—one old, one young—in love with the same young woman. Late in his career Chesnutt embarked on a period of experimentation with eccentric forms, finishing this hybrid of a romance and adventure story just before publishing his last work, The Colonel's Dream.
In Evelyn's Husband, Chesnutt crafts a parody examining white male roles in the early 1900s, a time when there was rampant anxiety over the subject. In Boston, the older man is left at the altar when his bride-to-be flees and marries a young architect. Later, trapped on an island together, the jilted lover and the young husband find a productive middle ground between the dilettante and the primitive.
Along with A Business Career, this novel marks Chesnutt's achievement in being among the first African American authors to defy the color barrier and write fiction with a white cast of main characters.