Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles

Two Serious Ladies Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles

What at first seems as a sequence of peculiar acts and events, occurring without an explanation and disappearing without a trace, soon reveals its substance and connects causes with effects in a most unconventional manner. It is briefly mentioned in the book as a »dispensation from the world«, but its presence radiates through every sentence.

The world as known to common people, without enough luck or money to follow every impulse to the end, is quite foreign to the two serious ladies. They posses wealth and with it a chance to create their own universe; they are free of worries about their future, consistency and composure. Without external obstacles to overcome and goals to reach, their reality is entrapped in the present flow of affairs. They don’t know the need to escape anything that happens. Everything is interesting to them, if anything is interesting at all. A lack of any but prosaic initiative of their own, brings their fears to the surface and their world becomes as claustrophobic as it is free. If in a way their experience is similar to that of a child – their pride and self-respect are subdued to an interest in what each opportunity can provide -, it differs in one crucial aspect. The child learns by trial and error, while they know no errors. The more they try to change something for sanity’s sake, the more it becomes obvious that their errands have ends only in themselves.

If at the beginning of the book I couldn’t care less about this imaginary life-style, I felt like walking through a funfair with them later. I’m not sure whether I could stay there for long, but I certainly lingered on the question “Who of us is freer and merrier?” for more then a while.


  1. If life is struggle, and you don’t have to struggle to survive, what does it do to you? It’s the question many children of the super-rich answer very badly.

    Your review made me think. And be glad I don’t have their problem.

  2. I don’t think I’d have the patience for the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed your review of it!

  3. Well, makes me wonder how I’d fare if I were in their position. Their life seems a different kind of scary.

    • Yes, it looks as though there’s a different kind of scariness behind each corner.
      I think it also depends on what conditions your motivation.. I know I need a push from time to time to keep moving, so I’m afraid I’d drown in laziness if I found myself in their place:)

  4. Sounds like maybe a hard one to grab hold of, but you make me want to at least give it a chance. Thanks!

    • You’re welcome of course. It’s quite a strange book indeed, but maybe more to me then it will be to you.
      Oh and if you do read it, I advise you to stick to the end, that’s the best part:)

  5. We all learn by trial and error. Failing and getting up and trying again are all part of life. Best in 2017!

  6. An alternative for the 1950’s:
    Our Man in Havana
    by Graham Greene

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