Only serious ladies please

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They are slow re in the most satisfying sense. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles is neither slim nor dense.

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At a glance, the text looks sort of conventional. There is a Miss Goering and a Mrs Copperfield, both of whom are wealthy American — presumably white — society women in their thirties, circa s. In preparing to write this, I read a few s aloud and was dismayed by how regular — even boring — they sounded.

Yet one quickly realizes the smooth, swift-reading surface and high-society subjects of Two Serious Ladies are a deception. Copperfield embark on distinct, inscrutable journeys toward — what? Miss Goering sells her luxurious family home to rent a squalid house on an obscure, inconvenient island, where she lives in disharmony with two hangers-on and pushes herself into increasingly alarming encounters with strangers.

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Drinking gin in her room, Mrs. I know that I shall enjoy certain moments of gaiety, willy-nilly. No one among my friends speaks any longer of character — and what interests us most, certainly, is finding out what we are like. Characters and surroundings are rendered artfully, minimally, bestowing the gift of mystery to the reader. Two Serious Ladies ends unceremoniously and unresolved — to my mind the best sort of ending.

I suppose this might upset some readers. I suppose the entire book might call into question what a novel should look like. This is not a small accomplishment.

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Only serious ladies please

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The Best Book of Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles