Vivian Carpentier, confined by her role as an upper class woman in the 1940s, gleans meaning only from erotic love. Troubled by the elusiveness of men, yet convinced that they run the world, she can barely conceal her desperation to entice. Struggling with motherhood and the failure of marriage, she takes jobs to bridge intervals between lovers. She sings in a hotel bar, sells dresses, and nurses her fathers friend through his last illness, hoping to atone for a self-centered life. The constant in Vivians life is her son, David. Having seen her worst and best moments, he provides her with consolation and a reason for living, In those days of her lovers absence, she grew fascinated with her sons beauty with the hard blue of his eyes, with all the particulars of his face, the pliability of his lips. The Son is the haunting story of a woman who desires something more, as if something more had been promised her that was not yet given. Vivian Carpentier, convinced that men run the world, finds meaning only in erotic love. Troubled by the elusiveness of men, she is barely able to conceal her desperation to entice, her need to be wanted.
The only constant in Vivians life is her son, David. She envies his future and wills to possess it. Having seen her worst and best moments, David provides her with consolation and a reason for living. Broaching an ancient taboo deeply embedded in the human psyche, The Son is the haunting story of a woman who sleeps with the bedside lamp lit, waiting for the illumination of self.
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(200mm x 127mm x 13mm)
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US Kirkus Review »
Gina Berriault has written two novels and a volume of short stories (1962) and to a certain extent she has never quite achieved the transition from the latter to the former. She writes rather like Hortense Calisher, with a somewhat self-conscious femininity (or perhaps womanliness is the more correct term), cultivating a fashionable sophistication and psychic restlessness. The Son is actually a portrait of a mother, a consuming woman. Vivian is introduced at eighteen when she marries, a marriage ended well before the birth of David. There's a second marriage to a man who dies during the war, a third which quickly dissolves in hostility, and in between many "temporal" relationships in which she is a very unloving love object. Then there's David, an intrusive and watchful figure in the background. But as David grows up, she becomes more and more predatory, fusing the image of boy and man, son and lover, until her last, mutually destructive attempt to find or free herself through him.... Miss Berriault has prepared her reader in a fashion which will diminish the shock while not really managing to enlist sympathy. Poor Vivian - she's so self-bound, but still she does provide plastic material for Miss Berriault's finedrawn, sensuous, neurasthenic commentary. (Kirkus Reviews)
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