Original date of publication: 1934
My edition: 1984 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: Read this for Virago Reading Week
How I acquired my copy: The Book Trader, October 2010
I’ve been really up and down with Molly Keane’s books. On one hand, I loved The Rising Tide and Taking Chances; on the other, I really didn’t like Loving Without Tears or this one. This is the story of the friendship between two women in London (and then, in true Molly Keane fashion, a decaying old estate in Ireland). Jane is a weak-willed woman who is caught between her friendship with Jessica and her budding relationship with George Playfair; Jessica is controlling and manipulative.
Neither of the two main characters is particularly likable, which made it hard for me to care what ultimately happened to them. Jane is practically a doormat and not that smart; Jessica gets herself involved in everybody else’s life, which I found irritating to the extreme. Their relationship is passionate, stormy, and I couldn’t quite see why they were friends in the first place. I also didn’t like Piggy, and not because of the lesbian element; I just didn’t care for her character all that much.
Molly Keane had a very sharp sense of humor; sarcasm practically drips off the page, especially when they characters talk about each other. Sarcasm and wit is one thing, but I thought the excess was a bit too over the top. However, I did like some of Keane’s characterizations, especially Albert the (gay) manservant. In addition, much of the story takes place through dialogue; there’s not much action, which makes this novel a bit hard to follow at times. It’s too bad I didn’t like this one, but since I have the rest of Molly Keane’s oeuvre on the TBR shelf, I’m going to soldier on.