Set in Boston, Moscow, New York City, and elsewhere, the sketches range widely from a profile of Harlem Renaissance writer Wallace Thurman, personal memoirs from West’s career and family experience, and an overview of the history and social strata of West’s beloved island home, Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
The title story -- a parable really -- is not about a marriage, but about two sisters, one who saved for the future, the other who lived in the moment... and eventually landed on the frugal sister's doorstep. At first Lottie felt "trapped by the blood tie, [and] knew that she would not only have to send for her sister, but take her in when she returned. It didn't seem fair that Bess should reap the harvest of Lottie's liftetime of self denial." After a welcoming feast for the prodigal sister, he ne're-do-well Bess asks Lottie how the years have treated her.
"It was me who didn't use them, said Lottie wistfully. "I saved for them. I saved for them. I forgot the best of them would go without my every spending a day or a dollar enjoying them."
This story affected me more when I reread it recently, after my Lottie-like father's death than when I first read it in Langston Hughes's The Best