Written by Mary Gordon, this short story also seems like it is of another era, or perhaps it just the lifestyle that seems foreign. There is a setting of a false sense of security and affectation in a woman who at 51, has returned to live with her parents in an upscale apartment when her marriage of nine years ends amicably enough–though it had never been consumated. In truth, her husband Billy discovers he is gay and leaves Eleanor to live with his new love.
Eleanor’s dependence upon her close circle of friends prevents her from sharing personal information about her past or present situation with current acquaintances. She is considered a bit aloof with both students and other faculty at her school, and has kept her privacy within an opera group that she’s been a member of for twenty years. Her former husband (though they’d never been officially divorced) is also involved as is his lover.
What’s interesting here is that while the above conditions might indeed call up many instances of conflict, the author chooses to ignore them and his protagonist is very accepting of all these rather unsettling events until they coagulate in the form of change–likely the one thing that Eleanor cannot as readily accept.
Very nice writing, interesting enough in its introspective way of getting us into the main character’s head, and with enough of a twist at the end to make it another view into human nature.