A short novel about a concept so alien today to the white, non-American community that it's absolutely worth reading for its subject matter. It is a tad poetic, but not too much so; abruptly ending, but providing, to my mind, a sufficient sense of closure; the dialogues are fine, the situations feel realistic; the only thing I felt dissatisfied with were the characters.
The perceptiveness of Irene, the protagonist, her insecurities, her perception of herself as mother and wife make her very easy to identify with, but she seems to be an everywoman, a bland, middle-class wife. Clare, the antagonist, a woman engaged in a dangerous game of 'passing', is presented as stunning, capricious, unpredictable, and feline; but while it would be most unfair to say this was achieved by telling rather than showing, it must be said that Larsen does a fair share of both in Clare's case. Also, I don't feel the attraction of this supposedly fascinating character, who, for some reason, makes me think of Maggie, Julia Roberts' character in Runaway Bride
and this priceless dialogue:
Maggie: Because you think I'm all like, "Hey, man, check me out."
Peggy: No, I don't. I think you're like... "I'm charming and mysterious in a way that even I don't understand, and something about me is crying out for protection from a big man like you." It's very hard to compete with. Especially as... married women who've lost our mystery.
Not an ambitious review, I know. But the book IS good. I intend to read Larson's Quicksand
in the near future.