OK, I’ll admit I’m a little obsessed with the writing of Beatriz Williams at the moment. But it’s justified! In this novel, she has managed, once again, to create characters that I’d love to go out and have a drink with.
This story, which takes place in New York just as the world is reeling from the effects of the first World War, weaves together the lives of Sophie, a reclusive innocent who secretly tinkers with “machines”, Octavian, a WWI air force veteran/hero, and Theresa, a middle aged NYC socialite. As their lives become entangled, we gradually learn why Sophie’s life has been so sheltered by her father and how complications of love can bring out both evil and good.
Williams’ use of different voices enables her to truly uncover the personalities of her colorful and complex characters. We hear from Theresa in first person – and her aggressive but coy and sardonic humor shines through. On the other hand, we learn about Sophie in third person, but this is fitting as she actually knows little about herself, having been sheltered by her father and trying to break out. And with each change of perspective comes a different tint in language and feeling.
What is also amusing is that all of Williams’ books either centrally or peripherally involve the Schuyler family of Manhattan, her fabricated, very large and very intriguing family of characters. In this book we get to know Julie Schuyler, who is rich and confident and worldly, but also admittedly dependent on her family for her fun – a woman typical of her wealthy 1920’s era. She is a side character here, but serves as the vehicle that brings Sophie into the limelight of the story.
I can’t wait to read my next Beatriz Williams book!