Edna Ferber, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Show Boat and Giant, achieved her first great success with a series of stories she published in American Magazine between 1911 and 1913. The stories featured Emma McChesney: smart, savvy, stylish, divorced mother, and Midwest traveling sales representative for T. A. Buck's Featherloom skirts and petticoats. With one hand on her sample case and the other fending off advances from salesmen, hotel clerks, and other predators, Emma holds on tightly to her reputation: honest, hardworking, and able to outsell the slickest salesman.
Like her compact bag of traveling necessities, Emma has her life boiled down to essentials: her work and her seventeen-year-old son, Jock. Her experience has taught her that it's best to stick to roast beef, medium--avoiding both physical and moral indigestion--rather than experiment with fancy sauces and exotic dishes. Yet she never shies away from a challenge, and her sharp instincts and common sense serve her well in dealing with the likes of Ed Meyer, a smooth-talking, piano-playing salesman; Blanche LeHay, prima donna of the Sam Levin Crackerjack Belles; and T. A. Buck Jr., the wet-behind-the-ears son of the founder of Featherloom.
Roast Beef, Medium is the first of three volumes chronicling the travels and trials of Emma McChesney. The illustrations by James Montgomery Flagg, one of the most highly regarded book illustrators of the period, enhance both the humor and the vivid characterization in this wise and high-spirited tale.