In an undetermined time (carriages, candlelight mentioned) in an undetermined place, that could easily be our own time and place or some time in the past, lives an ex cleaning woman, now married to a wealthy man. A cleaning woman who enjoyed her workplace – the museum, enjoyed the paintings and later loved writing about them.
Now she is rich and idle, but she wants to examine things she hadn’t gotten to know so far in life – wealth, relaxing, writing and strolling all day, ballet dancing, going to the theatre, owning things, drinking, geting high.
“Still in the process of becoming, the soul makes room.”
She is gradually learning to live with pleasure, in pleasure, wealth, do whatever, buy whatever. It’s indelicate how much straightfowrard indulgence she was getting, just because she wanted to.
She is trying out life, trying out different lives to see if they fit.
There are strong du Maurier Rebecca vibes throughout the novel.
I see her as a typical Freudian 19th century wealthy woman, frustrated not knowing what she wants, not satisfied, feeling captured, closed off in a house, in a life she got unexpecedly and did not know what to expect or even what to want. She isn’t allowed to be a full person, she is a wife, a woman whose place is in her home, by her husband and that is all she is. Although she had escaped poverty and hard labour, she was more herself then, she could do whatever she wanted. Now, married, she became neurotic, depressive, unsure of herself, unsure of her wants and her needs. She has it all but in reality she has nothing.
The husband’s and the male answer, explanation is that she is unstable, because that can be the only explamation. According to him she is not unsatisfied with him, her boring life, her role in life, her place, but merely unstable, always at fault.
Divorce is the only answer for the both of them. He was getting rid of a woman who gave him no comfort or love and she was getting rid of an unisteresting man she didn’t love. Because, marriage was not the answer, men/husbands were not the answer. She had to be what she wanted, herself, a writer, maybe (possibly) a bad one, but that was not what mattered, what mattered was that she was herself, by herself, not in relation to someone else.
“If I’m bored, at least it’s not coming from outside my own life. I chose the boredom I’m a part of.”
A very interesting, refreshing novel. A novel that belongs to the past and the present just the same. Applies to women everywhere, any time. Because this is what everyone needs, any time: reflection and confidence. Looking forward to what Cain will come up with next.