books > Two Serious Ladies
256pp paperback with flaps
by this author
Two Serious Ladies
by JANE BOWLES
‘I am going on a trip. Wait until I tell you about it. It’s terrible.’
Eccentric, impulsive New York heiress, Christina Goering meets the anxious but equally unpredictable Mrs Copperfield at a party. Two serious ladies, for whom nothing is natural and anything is possible, they follow their singular paths in search of salvation.
Mrs Copperfield visits Panama with her husband, whom she abandons for love of Pacifica, a local prostitute, and her brothel home. Miss Goering, for her part, seeks redemption by swapping her mansion for a squalid little house and relishing ever more extreme encounters with strangers. At the end, the two women meet again.
First published in 1943, Two Serious Ladies is a true one-off – daring and original, with deadpan humour and devastating insights. It was Jane Bowles’s masterpiece.
“Readers who’ve not yet read Jane Bowles are almost to be envied, like people who’ve still to read Austen or Mansfield or Woolf, and have all the delight, the literary satisfaction, the shock of classic originality, the revelation of such good writing, still to come.” Ali Smith
“Named by Tennessee Williams as his favourite book, Two Serious Ladies(first published in 1943) is a singular achievement – a modernist cult classic, and Jane Bowles’s only novel … Bowles’s spare, elliptical prose has a hallucinatory quality, pierced by moments of startling clarity and wit. Her characters retain a sphinx-like opacity, as unsettling as it is engrossing; “If you are only interested in a bearable life, perhaps this does not concern you,” one of them writes. It is this challenge that lies at the heart of Bowles’s novel.” Lettie Ransley, The Observer