Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Subtle Flashes From Unknown Places

My prediction was correct: FRIDAYS AT ENRICO'S and THE THIRD VIOLET have something in common! Yes, yes: significant chandeliers. "All so respectable. There was even a chandelier of real crystals in the front hall." That's Jaime from FRIDAYS thinking about her family home. In THE THIRD VIOLET, we get a "colossal chandelier, gleaming like a Siamese headdress," catching "the subtle flashes from unknown places." In both cases, the chandelier represents the difference in social status between a relatively genteel young woman and the hard-scrabble male artist with whom she finds herself falling in love. And in both cases, the chandelier is a point of ambivalence. "Why did Charlie's monastic little apartment make her feel jealous?" Jaime wonders after regarding her family's chandelier. From the other book, beneath the chandelier: "'It must be a fine thing,' said the girl, dreamily. 'I always feel envious of that sort of life.'" (Meaning the artist's life, which irritates the artist no end.) I've only read the first 12 pages of FRIDAYS AT ENRICO'S, so I have no idea what I'm talking about, though the chandelier appears at three important moments (that I counted) in THE THIRD VIOLET.