Indolence

Alison Wellford. Outpost19 (outpost19.com), $16 trade paper (210p) ISBN 978-1-937402-66-2
Wellford's accomplished debut offers a portrait of a May-December romance, which comforts a vulnerable young woman—until it doesn't. Sixteen-year-old Maria, resentful after being enrolled in an American boarding school while her mother convalesces in the French countryside, returns home for summer vacation. Her mother's cancer, however, is more advanced than Maria knew, and her father's anxiety manifests itself as deliberately distant, "noxiously quiet." Feeling adrift and underfoot, Maria fixates on Omar, a much older man who has expressed interest in her. Her advances are soon returned, and the two embark on a love affair that eventually cuts Maria off even further from her family. Omar, an art collector living in a ramshackle house, offers more than an erotic education for Maria—but at the novel's end, it's unclear, even years after the affair has ended, whether or how Maria's growing interest in art and artists will shape her adult life. The novel's appropriately languid tone and expressive descriptions, particularly of the natural world, offers an impressionistic portrait not only of Maria's surroundings but also of her state of mind. Maria's voice not only carries readers through these pages, but will stick with them afterward. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
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