What’s The Beautiful Indifference all about?:
The Beautiful Indifference tells the story of a woman who is having a relationship (mainly sexual) with a younger man. However there is a darker undercurrent to the tale, as anyone familiar with Sarah Hall’s writing comes to expect.
What did I think?:
The Beautiful Indifference is the second and title story in Sarah Hall’s collection and took me two readings before I appreciated the intensity of the work. We are introduced to a woman whom we meet in a hotel room as she is deciding on what to wear before meeting her lover. The reader comes to learn that the woman in question is slightly older than her lover (she had left home as he was being born) but the age gap between the two is not an issue and that they are able to have a conversation and enjoy each other’s company as well as being sexually compatible. Her friends initially seemed to support her having a relationship mainly based on the physical side of things, but have become increasingly wary and concerned as the meetings have continued, with nothing more solid or permanent forming. For them, it almost seems like she is behaving “like a man,” with little interest of developing a firmer attachment. However, there is a darker side to the tale as we come to realise that our main character has a serious and life-threatening illness, possibly ovarian cancer although nothing is ever confirmed. And then smack bang, we come to a “killer” of an ending, hints of which have been provided since the first page, although the author leaves everything very open and up in the air, allowing the reader to come to our own conclusions about what happens next.
As I mentioned earlier, it did take me two readings of this story to come to grips with it, I think this is mainly due to the ambiguity of the ending, which I have to admit left me feeling rather foxed and unsatisfied. After further contemplation however, I have come to appreciate why the author did what she did, and look upon it as an absolutely brilliant piece of writing, that stays with you long after you have put the book down. I’m certain that if I go back and read it a third time, I will come across something new to think about and mull over, the sign of an excellent storyteller. If anyone out there has read this, I would love to know your thoughts!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: The Strange Career of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories.