PENGUIN BOOKS, 1992, 357 pp.
Yes, that’s right. I’m writing about MARY MORRIS’ 1992 novel, A DANGEROUS WOMAN, and I’m doing it today, 2014 because I was lucky enough to come across it in a lending library in my co-op. We get so fixed on the latest book club recommendations, that sometimes the most wonderful writers can slip our notice.
Writers, this is a book you can learn from, as ornery and surprising as the main character, Martha Horgan, who gets wild crushes, obsessions, stares too much, and feels as if pieces of her body is falling off if she goes anywhere she hasn’t been before. Her oddness and honesty make her a target for the whole town. Deceit is what she sees all around her. Frances, her aunt and begrudging guardian; Birdy who tries to be kind to her, but ends up cruelly expelling her; and manic and drunken Colin Mackey who prays on her. Morris puts you right inside Martha. You end up caring deeply for a woman you would have crossed to the opposite side of the street for if you had known she was coming.
The suspense is unnerving, but at times, Morris made me laugh out loud. And the satiric way she sizes people up is straight out of Dickens. Wait until you meet old Mr. Weilman whose ear hair shines.
A book like this, a writer like Morris, should not be overlooked for the “latest” book club favs.