In her long writing career, Mary Gordon has often embraced topics surrounding women’s lives, feminism and family love. Her new novel, Payback, returns to the ones subject matters as it follows the lives of two women.
In 1972, Agnes Vaughan, an idealistic younger artwork history instructor at a Rhode Island girls’ school, wonders whether she’s making any difference in her students’ lives. She decides to take Heidi Stolz, an overprivileged, antagonistic woman and the school’s “least obviously lovable” student, under her wing. Agnes units up a task a good way to send Heidi to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. But the project backfires whilst Heidi finds herself out of her depth and is raped through a man. When she returns home and asks Agnes for help, Agnes as a substitute blames Heidi. Heidi runs off, and Agnes is so appalled by way of her blunders that she quits her activity to search for the female, who has disappeared.
The tale moves ahead to 2015, as Agnes prepares to leave Rome, where she’s lived on the grounds that 1972. She has slowly built a new life however still secretly despairs at having betrayed Heidi’s trust. The novel then movements into Heidi’s perspective, and we learn the way she reinvented herself as reality TV megastar Quin Archer, host of “Payback,” a display that lets sufferers confront their victimizers. Heidi’s current goal is to make Agnes pay for what she did.
Payback resists categorization; it’s element satire and part meditative character take a look at with loads of interiority. Agnes’ sin is of its time, and readers might also marvel how it merited a long time of obsession. Still, Payback gives many pleasures, not best the range in voices but additionally the evocation of eras, the early Seventies and the present day decade, with the right quantity of period detail. Agnes’ sections offer a number of the novel’s most lovely writing, with extraordinary observations on families, lifestyles in Italy, getting old and the passage of time. This is an interesting addition to Gordon’s body of work.