Thursday, March 31, 2011
THE HIGH ROAD by Edna O'Brien (1988) Farrar Strauss & Giroux, 214 pages
Edna O'Brien is considered by Alice Munro to be perhaps the finest short story writer anywhere. THE HIGH ROAD is a mid-career novel set in a Spanish enclave where there is a circle of women who yearn for loves past and present.
You'll meet Charlotte, a former debutante who has chosen a life of withdrawal; Iris, an imperious aging self-absorbed harpy; and Anna, the narrator, who senses in hotel maid Catalina her chance to defy social expectations of suitable relationships and renew hope for true love.
It seems to me that O'Brien was trying to push conventions of the day aside and establish herself as a writer who experiments with boundaries both stylistic and sexual. Reading the novel almost 25 years later, it feels decidedly dated.