by Esther Freud
from the September 27, 2021 issue of The New Yorker

I know Esther Freud’s name because she wrote a lovely foreword to Tove Jansson’s marvelous The Summer Book. She is the author of nine novels, including the recently released I Couldn’t Love You More, though I don’t know any of them. If you do, please comment below. Again, I love The Summer Book so much, and I figure any friend of it is a friend of mine.

“Desire” is a relatively short piece for The New Yorker, so I was able to jump in this morning and read it, though I don’t have time right now to share my thoughts entirely. I’ll start with the first lines, for anyone curious about just that much:

“The three of you are sisters, surely?” A man, awash with drink, waylaid us as we fought through to the lounge. Our mother smiled, eyes fixed on an empty row of seats, while Bea and I stepped sideways to avoid the steam cloud of his breath.

“Quick.” A couple were snaking their way toward our chairs and, lifting Max, Mum rushed to intercept them. The boat was cheaper than the plane, the night boat cheaper still, and it was possible, if you were fast, to find enough seats to allow you to lie down. The man, red-faced, lost his footing and, one arm flailing, caught Bea around the waist. “Fuck off,” she said, yanking herself free.

“Remember, not a word about the move,” our mother said, when we were settled, and I glanced at the dark curtains of her hair, her fine, drawn skin and worried eyes. Bea had twisted around to check the rubbery doors, slapping back and forth into the bar. “Sure,” she said, and I agreed, and Max, who’d only recently turned three, ran a train along her arm.

I’ll share my thoughts soon in the comments. In the meantime, please feel free to share your thoughts on “Desire.”

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