Monday, 24 August 2009
Persephone Reading Week: Fidelity (Glaspell)
On my last PRW, back at the end of June, I found myself gripped by Glaspell's Brook Evans. So when I realised that I had another novel by her, published by Persephone on my shelf, I decided it would get the week off to a good start.
It is a chunky volume, and an absolutely riveting read, primarily due to the way that Glaspell tells the story by intermingling the "present" (albeit the present of c1910) with that of the past. And how she describes and reveals a set of relationships at the time and how they are influenced by social mores.
It is the story of a girl called Ruth Holland, who ran off with a married man over a decade ago (although this man was in a "dead" relationship, and felt that he had not actually been married to his wife for the past two years). We see the events leading up to her elopement.
10 years later she is summoned back, as her father is ailing (and her mother had died previously asking for Ruth). Now we see how Ruth's elopement has affected the people around her - the doctor in love with her who helped her to escape, his wife who can't see why he feels compassion for a woman who ran off with a married man, her family left behind, and her best friend who is now friends with supposedly abandoned wife. It is a wonderfully complex book that leaves one wondering about right and wrong - it is certainly not clear cut.
I wouldn't have come across Glaspell had it not been for the Persephone imprint (so hurrah for the rediscovery of excellent books), and I haven't seen anything blogged about her either (although I know at least one other person is reading this book today). So, I would like to urge you to discover her too.