But once in the world, she learned everyone’s lesson – families were not as they seemed, she grew artful in spotting the cracks in domestic facades. Wasn’t everyone damaged….
For many years, a book – The Widow’s Children – sat on a shelf in my bookcase untouched because I had read that the author – Paula Fox – tended toward the somber although many critics consider Fox one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Most of Fox’s works were published in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, so many of her books are out of print which means Fox is not as well-known as she was 30 years ago. Read more
“Desperate Characters” was written by Paul Fox more than 40 years ago (1970) and yet, the story seems timeless. Sophie and Otto Brentwood are in their 40’s and have been married 15 years. Childless (and not really unhappy about it), well-educated, and established (he’s a lawyer, she’s a translator of books), they have a brownstone in Brooklyn with a modern stainless steel equipped kitchen, cedar planked floors, and rooms that seamlessly flow into each other (the result of removing the sliding doors). There is a Mercedes parked outside in a coveted street parking space that Otto reluctantly uses only when leaving town for fear of losing his space. And, there is the weekend home in the village of Flynders on Long Island which is neither on the water nor part of the Hamptons social scene. Inhabiting a world both in Brooklyn and Flynders in which they have nothing in common with the locals or the neighbors, Sophie and Otto are the ultimate gentrifiers basking in the idea of living in a changing area but horrified by the people and activity outside their windows. Read more