Minna Proctor

  • Upper stressed side

    There's a certain kind of Victorian society novel that always makes me feel like an unreconstructed Communist. Yes, I get swept up in the story, plow through the pages like potato chips. But as I do, I am waging a small, private, fearsome debate with the consumptive heroine (and her creator, and, by extension, her creator's whole social world). Why should I treat her petty aspirations with the same regard I hold for, say, those of Othello? Heroes should die or kill for love—not for pride or, worse, a place card. Thus a book like The Emperor's Children, Claire Messud's decidedly bourgeois and