"The Sheltered Life," writes Carol S. Manning in her Afterword to this new paperback edition, is "a jewel of American literature and deserves recognition as a masterpiece of the Southern Renaissance." It is a remarkably unsentimental look at the old South, a society that blindly holds to past values enforced by a strict code of conduct, being overtaken by the new age of industrialization.

Ellen Glasgow's career-long attempt to expose the cruelty of the "cult of beauty worship" and the "philosophy of evasive idealism" that she saw as prevalent in the South's conversations, manners, customs, and literature reaches its zenith in The Sheltered Life.