Gloria has everything except what she wants. A vivid portrayal of the class structure of America in the 1950s and of the assumptions concerning gender that underlay society. It is about friendship, loyalty, sexuality, and love, and the dynamics of Gloria's family.
On her last trip to New York with her mother, she'd been fitted for a new formal, one that was older and more sophisticated than she'd ever worn before; it was smoke and silver, princess length, quite low cut, and she didn't want to wear it-would have preferred to revert to her jeune fille Cinderella persona-but she didn't have any choice; she couldn't very well get another one made at this late date. Preparing to do her makeup, looking in the mirror at her freshly scrubbed, bare skin, she saw a sad, tired girl who wanted to stay home with a book. Maybe if I put on lots and lots of makeup, she thought, just gobs of it, nobody will be able to see me at all.
Gloria has all the Traina-Norell dresses and Ben Zuckerman suits a girl could ask for. She is a prom queen, a popular sorority girl-class of '57. Her father is vice president of a steel company and her mother is a society matron. Gloria is attractive, popular, and pinned-engaged to be engaged. So why is she so dissatisfied? A story set in John O'Hara territory, Gloria is a vivid portrayal of the class structure of America in that era and of the assumptions concerning gender that underlay society. It is about friendship, loyalty, sexuality, and love, and the dynamics of Gloria's family. But mostly it is about Gloria and her last summer at home before setting out for the larger world that she longs to engage.
Reminiscent of Carnal Knowledge and By Love Possessed, this is the story of a young woman whose courage, intellectual integrity, and creative gifts defy expectations.
Who list her hount, I put him owte of dowbte,
As well as I may spend his tyme in vain:
And, graven with Diamonds, in letters plain
There is written her faier neck rounde abowte:
Noli me tangere, for Cesars I ame;
And wylde for to hold though I seme tame.
--Sir Thomas Wyatt
It was well past the time when anyone should feel the least bit embarrassed by asking for another drink. The worst of the day, in fact, was nearly over -- that tedious span of muggy afternoon when one deeply regrets the second helping of Crab Louis and the second (or was it the third?) Scotch, while the sun -- fat and yellow and simple as a kid's drawing -- blazes away in an impossibly blue sky complete with the corniest of cotton clouds, and one must, somehow, maintain the pretense that one is having a hell of a good time on one's day off.
A faint breeze had sprung up; now it stirred the drapes in the open window of the guest room upstairs; through that window one could ...
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- PW Starred Review
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