Broaching a taboo deeply embedded in the human psyche, this haunting story tells of a woman who desires “something more, as if something more had been promised her that was not yet given.”
The first published in 1962, The Son introduces readers to Vivian Carpentier, confined by her role as an upper class woman in the 1940s, gleans meaning only from erotic love. Troubled by the elusiveness of men, yet convinced that they run the world, she can barely conceal her desperation to entice. Struggling with motherhood and the failure of marriage, she takes jobs to bridge intervals between lovers. She sings in a hotel bar, sells dresses, and nurses her father’s friend through his last illness, hoping to atone for a self-centered life. The constant in Vivian’s life is her son, David. Having seen her worst and best moments, he provides her with consolation and a reason for living.
Gina Berriault’s work as a storywriter of great psychological empathy and extraordinary elegance and subtlety was celebrated widely at the end of her life and, with this reissue of one of her more celebrated short novels, her work can be discovered by a new generation of readers.