This was one of several books released digitally as part of the Reclaim Her Name movement, which was created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Each of these book was written by a woman who had to use a male pseudonym due to the sexism and prejudices of their time. Marie of the Cabin Club was originally credited to “Arnold Petri”, but now, for the first time, Ann Petry has been correctly attributed as the author.
As it happens, this particular addition to the collection is very much just a short story – you’ll easily finish it in one sitting. It’s about a woman named Marie who works as a “cigarette girl” in a cabin club – she falls in love with one of the musicians there and the two of them have a romance. However, there’s more to the musician than meets the eye. It’s set in the 1930s (when it was written) and this context is quite important. The story takes an interesting turn and it becomes a bit of a thriller – but it is very short and there isn’t all that much time left to properly explore the characters and ideas.
In one sense, it’s a very good short story: I liked everything I read and I wished that there was more to it… but, also, this meant that I was left thinking “oh, was that it?” which is perhaps a side effect of it being put forward as a standalone piece. Maybe I wouldn’t have thought that if it had been released as part of an anthology.
Either way, this is a short and sweet story. Enjoyable and intriguing while it lasts and because of the limited amount of time needed to finish it, I don’t think anybody could regret reading it.