Monday, February 6, 2012

Days of Love...and Lack Thereof, Day 12


In Evening by Susan Minot, sixty-five year old Ann Grant only has weeks to live. Surrounded by family, she begins to talk about her life, crisscrossing the years from her childhood, to her three unsatisfactory marriages, to the death of her son.

Susan Minot
She is perceived by friends to be extraordinarily private, in complete control of her life, and perhaps even a little cold. Ann begins to describe a passionate (but ultimately doomed) affair when she was twenty-five, a weekend that ends in tragedy and changes her life forever yet she considers these to be the happiest of her life and where she found the only true love she has known.

This is my favorite of Minot’s books; it is in my opinion the most complete work of fiction she has done to date. Speaking of which, this woman needs to write another book. It’s been forever since her short novel Rapture


If I were to name my all time favorite books--and I'm sure that I have somewhere in this blog in the last six months, I would always, always pick Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway in the top tier.  I don't know why, exactly, but this book spoke to me. It's beautifully written, and it's also full of longing and what-might-have-beens.  I love this book, but it is most definitely not a love story in the traditional sense.

I also liked the movie version
of Mrs. Dalloway. 
Clarissa Dalloway is going to throw a party, and she's going to buy the flowers herself.  She spends the day planning her party and reminiscing about the young woman she once was and the loves of her life that she turned from in order to marry the steadier Richard Dalloway.  She chose the businessman over the artist, over the unconventional girl/girl relationship.  As she plans her party, Clarissa begins to believe that a failed party will signal the failure of her life, and that perhaps she should end it.

Interwoven with Clarissa's day is one for Septimus, a World War I veteran who cannot shake the post-traumatic stress he developed when he saw his friend killed, when he saw hundreds of soldiers die in the trenches.  Septimus is facing commitment, and he too faces his own mortality.

Mrs. Dalloway is an amazing book.  I love this book.  Nothing says "Happy Valentine's Day" like a book about contemplated suicides and fractured lives, right?

1 comment:

  1. Hey Texans, these are two of my favorites and, I think, somewhat linked in technique. You can't imagine Minot not having read Woolf and learned a thing or two about stream of consciousness. I been enjoying these musings of yours, but this pairing takes the cake.