A Woman of Means: A Novel

A Woman of Means: A NovelThis book was strong on character an simple in plot It was a good, short read, but didn t compel me to read other works by the author. I loved the hell out of this book until about page 107, and would have given it a five if the ending hadn t been such a terrible cop out Every detail of the story is perfectly placed, and you feel like you re really going somewhere profound and then she just goes crazy Not even in a convincing way Anna Lauterbach goes from perfectly sane to raving and hallucinating in a matter of minutes, from the reader s perspective, and the reason given that she feels betrayed by her husband I m not really sure isn t at all convincing I had the feeling that Taylor wasn t sure how to end the book This is his first novel, he s better known for his short stories, and he won a Pulitzer for A Summons to Memphis, so I ll definitely keep reading him. Sometimes you read a 19th century novel and it feels wonderfully current, relevant, and real Other times you read something published in 1950 and it might as well have taken place on Uranus, its situations and language are so remote from 21st century experience That was the case with this novella, which came highly recommended by Jonathan Yardley For me it had small echoes of other works, such as The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen an excellent book , and A Separate Peace, works dealing with adolescents trying to navigate their way through new and sometimes strange worlds, and with Bowen trying to figure out where they fit into the adult relationships around them Atmospherically it reminded me of some of Ward Just s novels featuring young men of the 1940s and 50s.The narrator is 13 year old Quint Dudley, who is being raised by his businessman father in the south His mother died giving birth to him Father and Quint live in a succession of boarding houses, and he spends summers on his grandmother s farm But his father wants Quint to be a city boy, to be able to earn a good living Mr Dudley marries a very wealthy St Louis divorcee with two teenage daughters, and Quint gets the mother he never had It so happens that she has always wanted a son, too Things go pretty swimmingly in the new household, if you discount the fact that we re on Uranus, until they begin to go a little sour.Yardley feels Peter Taylor is one of the great, and most sadly neglected, American writers although Taylor did receive a Pulitzer in 1987 for A Summons to Memphis he considers The Old Forest the greatest short story ever written by an American So feel free to disregard my rating and read this for yourself. Taylor s apprenticeship novel shows, in distilled form, all of the various themes and subjects he ll explore throughout his entire career In that, it s interesting as a literary artifact But as a evocation of a time, a place, a class, and the instability of all of those, as a story of growing up and seeing how fragile, frightened, and even petty your parents are, as a meditation on home and what it is and how it s made and how the myths of our own pasts help us to figure out what home is, and who we are as all of that, this novel is just simply gorgeous.Like all of Taylor s work, it s not for everybody Understated, subtle, lacking in drama and page turning ness, it s a cerebral novel that can be read in a sitting, but that is better suited for savoring, for reflection, and for introspective conversation with yourself about how the novel does, and does not, help to explain your own self Taylor s not a cool writer, and never was but he is an incredibly human writer, who asks us to think through what constitutes our own humanity. Peter Taylor is a Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction Lovely story narrated by a boy 12 13 years old His mother died when he was born and his father always has work but they move many times Quint lives with his grandmother and cousins and other relatives in the country in Tennessee until his father meets and marries a wealthy woman in St Louis Quint is collected from his grandmother and finds his new family to be wonderful, including two older sisters His stepmother is loving and treats him warmly like the boy she never had and wanted He basks in her affectionate ways Quint s life is transformed and he feels safe but has never quite fit in among peers, who tease him about his long elegant name and his southern accent And then his family life subtly and slowly unravels The book is slim, easy to read, and quietly profound between the lines. An early novella by Taylor 1950 , better known for his short stories Set in 1920 s St Louis, the climatic event is very 1950 s in fact it is very 19th C in its view of the fragile, nervous wealthy female I love short works, but this could have used some filling out, it felt like some events were just dropped without the further development they could have used What I like most about the work, and a signature point of Taylor s style, is the leisurely 1st person narrative which only shares what he has seen, and the reader gets to discover events and an understanding of them at the narrator s pace I gave this 3 stars, but 3.5 would be like it I do enjoy Taylor s prose and love to dip into his collections of short stories for an evening May be a bit too old fashioned for some. Recommended to me by Richard Ford Taylor s first novel is a masterpiece of compression and character development and reminds me at times of Joyce s Dubliners in its build to a psychologically penetrating climax So fine. Mystifying This book is so compact and oblique traits I normally value that the melodramatic ending took me completely by surprise Did I miss any clues The story is told from the point of view of Quintus Cincinnatus Lovell Dudley, a teenager whose mum died giving birth to him His early life has been spent alternately on his grandmother s farm in the South and in boarding houses with his dad, a hardworking salesman In circumstances left unaddressed, Gerald meets and marries Ann, a wealthy divorc e with 2 daughters older than Quint Ann, who always dreamt of having a son, makes a pet of Quint, to the extent that when tensions arise in the marriage, Gerald accuses her of having accepted him to get the boy Ann, on the other hand, has been plagued throughout her life by the suspicion that people only like her for her money, and starts feeling that way about Gerald The weird thing is, Gerald remains just as committed to his job after marrying her and shows no sign of turning into a gigolo Eventually the board of his company makes him take the fall for mistakes or embezzlements committed by his predecessor Ann shows remarkably little sympathy for his humiliation, and even refuses to believe his account of his difficulties at work Is this the first sign of her descent into madness I m afraid that at this point Mr Taylor lost me From one page to the next Ann goes from being a slightly insecure socialite to a screaming lunatic with phantom pregnancy syndrome who has to be carted away to an institution Half baked Henry James. Always interesting to me to read stories dealing with class and status in the South Taylor s narrator is a boy of twelve at the outset of the novella, but clearly narrating as an older man reflecting, and Taylor expertly manages his narrator s story to shift time frames between his younger self in Tennessee and his older self in St Louis, thereby hanging a complex social architecture around a boy present day writers would tend to locate in one moment It also neatly captures the boy s lack of full engagement at any given time, his awareness of his difference, and that makes this one of the complicated stories of Southern debutantes and wealth I have read. As A Boy S Attachment To His High Class Stepmother And Her Means Grows, Her Marriage To His Father Begins To Crumble In Small, Subtle Ways, Which Ultimately Lead To Larger, Devastating Consequences The First Southern Novel Of Time, Memory, And Family Secrets By The Pulitzer Prize Winning Storyteller

Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor was a U.S author and writer Considered to be one of the finest American short story writers, Taylor s fictional milieu is the urban South His characters, usually middle or upper class people, often are living in a time of change and struggle to discover and define their roles in society.Peter Taylor also wrote three novels, including A Summons to Memphis in 1986, f

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  • Hardcover
  • 140 pages
  • A Woman of Means: A Novel
  • Peter Taylor
  • English
  • 10 October 2019
  • 9780913720448

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