GIVE ME MYSELF by Susan Sherman


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A first novel, written in the first person with a disquieting intensity, Give Me Myself is, superficially, the story of a young girl under the disturbing influence of an older woman but essentially it is a record of a journey toward self-knowledge. Nona Greene, 19, sensitive and vulnerable, audits Evelyn Gordon McKenna's class in Literary Symbolism during a summer at Masefield College. Mrs. McKenna is a renowned Irish scholar with an equally well-known reputation for depravity of all kinds though this is not at first apparent to her young student who falls in love with her. Evelyn McKenna's literary and philosophical concerns are real and unassailable and they give meaning to Nona's similar pursuits blinding her to the hopeless destructiveness of her teacher's way of life. Nona's life that summer is not her own; she lives through McKenna's moods and whims, alternately elated by her idol's clarity of mind and depressed by revelations of corruption. She abandons her own studies, supports McKenna on her own meager income, accompanies her to New York (where she endures a degrading experience with McKenna's homosexual friends), and arranges for her passage to Florence. Eventually McKenna sends for her and heedless-particularly of her parents, Nona comes to her. She finds McKenna in unspeakable squalor, deteriorated beyond reclaim and she leaves for home, at McKenna's request, in the hope that the change in herself would be sustaining. Susan Sherman's novel is forthright and written, one feels, with a purity of intention. The problem she deals with is complicated and she is adept at dissecting motivation. Perhaps because of this the feeling left with the reader is, unavoidably, one of embarrassment for her honesty.

Publisher: World