Molly Bloom is a wonderful creation, and her monologue probably the apogee of modern fiction (that's nailed my colours to the mast). Kate Somerville captures her earthiness, sensuality and complete lack of bullshit – romping felinely on a big brass bed (where, alas, her husband's sleeping form does not lie), she covers a whole spectrum of notions, concentrating on the scarlet of matters sexual.
The chapter, however, resists staging on two counts: it's an internal monologue, and one whose power partly derives from the preceding 17 chapters. Somerville must show herself making connections and changing tack, rather than flowing on unpunctuated as on the page: and the multitude of undifferentiated "he"s (husband, lover, priest, young poet. first suitor) confuse those who don't know the book. As a homage and as a performance, glorious: as a theatrical piece, it's an awkward cuss.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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