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A GLIMPSE OF SCARLET by Roxana Robinson

A GLIMPSE OF SCARLET

And Other Stories

By Roxana Robinson

Pub Date: June 19th, 1991
ISBN: 0-06-016331-3
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Fourteen finely wrought and revealing stories about the not- so-gentle sting of WASP-y love, from novelist (Summer Light) and biographer (Georgia O'Keeffe) Robinson. In ``The Time for Kissing,'' a grown daughter, Susannah, sorts through images from her past in an effort to come to some sort of understanding with her willfully remote mother. Just as Susannah is ready to risk it--to try to cross old barricades of correctness-- her mother manages to rebuff her in a final, and desperately sad, fashion. ``Second Chances'' deals with the permutations and complications of trying to arrange a Thanksgiving dinner in a family of second marriages where there are stepchildren and in- laws, and where all the connections seem fragile and too-strong at the same time. In ``Tears Before Bedtime,'' a woman caught in the downward spiral of a bitter marriage uses a witty public argument at a dinner party to decimate her husband--but later at home, in a moving moment of truth, has to face up to his side of things. These stories all involve people of privilege: servants are part of the background; vacation houses and trips to Europe come with the territory. Robinson is wonderfully adept at conveying the code of this world. Unpleasant things--pain, blackmail, infidelity--are masked by convention, by chitchat, by small, polite smiles. In ``Graduation,'' a woman attending her son's boarding-school graduation has to deal with the dreaded prospect of meeting up with her ex-husband, an angry man who hasn't spoken to her in years. She carries it off and believes that everything has gone well--until she understands that she's been betrayed, deeply betrayed, in a way she'll never forget. There are strong moments of self-revelation in many of these pieces, including the title story, as well as ``Daughter'' and ``Friendship in a Foreign Country.'' Once more, Robinson demonstrates that she can take well-used New Yorker-ish themes and give them a whole new shine.