Dutchess of Nothing

Heather McGowan, Author . Bloomsbury $22.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-59691-066-9

McGowan's maverick follow-up to her debut, Schooling (2001), stars a 30-ish divorced American woman who, it is implied, has the lithe frame, iconic features and sophisticated trashiness of Holly Golightly. Too smart for her own good and lacking Holly's ambition or drive, the nameless narrator is living in Rome with young, faceless lover Edmund—and caring for Edmund's seven-year-old half-brother. Edmund is described mostly in terms of the beauty of his back, about which the narrator is careful to instruct "Edmund's brother" (aka "the boy") lest he get duped into loving an unworthy object (as she has). The boy's "education" (she forbids him to go to school) is in fact her preoccupation, allowing McGowan to give the woman's autodidactic rants (on love) free rein. When Edmund abruptly leaves the odd menage, the woman and the boy run out of money, get increasingly desperate and contemplate ways of finding Edmund that won't make them lose face. The woman's absolute devotion to tiny matters of style and comportment, and her resolute obliviousness to the ridiculously mannered, bafflingly anachronistic figure she cuts, is a lode McGowan mines with relish as she slowly chips away at the woman's love for the boy. Weeks after finishing this singular, pointedly frustrating novel, readers will find that nameless woman's mind still moving restlessly within them. (Mar. 28)

Reviewed on: 02/06/2006
Release date: 03/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-1-59691-067-6
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-59691-857-3
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