The eponymous character in Peter Taylor’s A Woman of Means is Quint’s new step-mother, Ann. Used to boarding houses and his father’s nomadic bachelor life, Quint’s new step-mother creates a paradigm shift in his world: a permanent home full of 1920s old-money finery and a woman who he comes to view as his mother, no “step-” required.
Quint’s narration beautifully captures how what happens at school or work during the day can create bridges or mountain or rifts at home in the evening, how the various parts of our lives are truly interconnected. At 13, however, Quint misses much of the subtlety in his parent’s relationship: he loves his father, he loves his (step-)mother and they feel like a family to him. But Quint’s father has decidedly married up in the world, thrusting both of them into an unfamiliar world of household servants, debutant balls, and private schools. For Quint, these things are each a new adventure – he befriends the chauffeur Gus, marvels at his step-sister’s beautiful receptions, wins the award for best all-around boy at school. Quint doesn’t notice when his parents’ marriage first starts to crack and doesn’t really understand when he’s caught in the middle of it in full collapse. Continue reading “Can’t Buy Love: A Woman of Means by Peter Taylor”