She had been useful to him, at least until the middle years, when she sometimes became troubled and drank in the daytime or slept in the garden, or went around the house foaming at the mouth. She pulled out some of her hair, complained of the voices in her head. He was, she said the, an exhausting spouse – charming and charismatic, but overbearing, unfaithful, and demanding (she improved somewhat on a diet of witchy-sounding pills, extracted from the urine of a horse.) She might have been an artist (she had that unforgiving temper) but for her tragic flaw – everything she touches turns beautiful. She became, of course, a gardener and rules her dominion like a tyrant. She represses roses and astilbe, withholds water from strawberries, which produce tiny deep red fruit of exquisite intensity. She serves them, in season, at breakfast, in a fluted white bowl. God eats more then his share because she takes less in hers (pgs. 25-26)
God is Goddard Bryd, headmaster of the Goode School, a college predatory boarding school on Cape Wilde in Massachusetts. It is the early 1960’s and God has come home and discovered that his wife plans to serve him one more dinner and then leave him. Her suitcase is already by the door. God’s first question in his mind is who would do his typing for him from now on.
God is one of the main characters in Carolyn Cooke’s novel, Daughters of the Revolution. The publisher blurbs and the book jacket tell the reader the book is about the clash between God, and his “girls will be in my school only over my dead body” stance and the first girl to be admitted – Carol Faust. And yes, that narrative runs through the novel. But there are other narratives as well, for example, the story of Evie whose father, a former student at the school, dies in the opening pages. Or even a story about the changing status of women, older women such as Evie’s mother or God’s secretary as well as the younger generation.
I really wanted to like this story. Evie is just a year or so younger than me so I thought I would feel some sort of kinship. But her experiences were only somewhat similar to mine and I didn’t really like her that much. I did like Carol but she appears in flashes, more as a statement then a fully fleshed character. And I guess that sums up most of my issues with the book, I felt the author was writing statements. Well-written statements, funny and satirical statements, but even so I still don’t quite know what the author wanted me to get out of this book.
My favorite character, for all his faults and large-then-life character was God. I thought he was the most fleshed out of the characters and the best writing was about him, struggling to maintain his standards in a changing world, a world in which he is growing old.
Toward morning, he dreamed of death. He found himself unprepared, having forgotten to bring a pair of socks from his top drawer, where his good nurtured wife used to tuck them, rolled up into themselves. And so he had to stand barefoot in purgatory with other old forgetful old me. What a disappointing end. He’d imagined light – if not a blaze of glory, a small persistent glow. (pg. 145)