Roast Beef, Medium (Emma McChesney trilogy #1), first published in 1913 is a novel by Pulitzer Prize winner, the American novelist Edna Ferber.
This book follows the adventures of Emma McChesney, a smart and savvy divorced mother who travels the Midwest as a sales representative for a large skirt and petticoat manufacturer.
Her many adventures with people, (including predatory salesmen and hotel clerks), are funny and poignant. She is hardworking and able to outsell the slickest of the men salesmen. She has learned to focus on her work and her seventeen-year-old son, Jock.
Experience has taught her that it is usually best to stick to roast beef, medium and not get stomach ache with fancy sauces and exotic dishes.
This is the first of three volumes following the career and adventures of Emma McChesney. The second volume is Personality Plus (1914) and the third volume is Emma McChesney and Company (1915).
Edna Ferber rose to fame, in fact, on her short stories about the adventures of Emma, about whom the phrase "one smart cookie" might have been coined.
Edna Ferber (1885-1968) was an American novelist, short story writer and playwright. Her novels were especially popular and included the Pulitzer Prize-winning So Big (1924), Show Boat (1926; made into the celebrated 1927 musical), Cimarron (1929; made into the 1931 film which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), and Giant (1952; made into the 1956 Hollywood movie).
Ferber's novels generally featured strong female protagonists, along with a rich and diverse collection of supporting characters. She usually highlighted at least one strong secondary character who faced discrimination ethnically or for other reasons; through this technique, Ferber demonstrated her belief that people are people and that the not-so-pretty people have the best character.