Friday, March 16, 2007

Woman's work

We know how Jenny ends up: a prostitute. The tension in her story — her backstory — The Siege of Pleasure, the second volume in the threesome that makes up Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, is in watching her fall and not being able to stop her.

It mattered not to Jenny, who had weighty work on hand — that is not to say weighty in the figurative sense of the term — but work which involved hauling out mighty bedsteads so as to get round and make the bed, dragging out monstrous furniture so as to dust behind it, emptying vast Edwardian basins of their brimming soap-grey lakes, lifting enormous and replenished jugs and lowering them at arm's length slowly lest they smashed the massive crockery, transporting wabbling pails, as heavy as children but not so tractable, down stairs and along passages, and carrying piled trays about in a world wherein practically everything was breakable, and only terrific muscular exertion and an agonized striving after balance could avert the impending crash — in brief, 'woman's work.'

— from The Siege of Pleasure, in Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, by Patrick Hamilton.

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