Keynotes by Mary Bright

This was another of the books in the Reclaim Her Name series, where works by female authors which were published under male pseudonyms are finally released under the author’s real name. Keynotes was originally published under the name George Egerton, and is an example of early modernist work.

As someone who’s not the biggest fan of modernism, I was wary of starting this. I wanted to read all the Reclaim Her Name books, so I did get around it eventually, but I was concerned it might be similar to be experience of Ulysses, which I really struggled with. Fortunately, it was more like my experience with Virginia Woolf (who’s work I quite enjoy).

While I expected this to be a novel, it’s more like a collection of untitled short stories – but none of the pieces really feel like a cohesive whole. They’re glimpses into the lives of several characters, with the emphasis usually on relationships between men and women. Each piece paints a beautiful, vivid picture, and the feelings of the characters as they, for example, contemplate an affair, or consider the waning love in their marriage, come across really well.

I won’t deny, it’s a book that’s hard to follow sometimes. There’s a lot of information on thoughts and histories and so forth, that the lines between past, present, and future, can feel blurred. What is specifically happening in the moment is often unclear, and you may find yourself re-reading certain passages over and over to make sense of them. No doubt this will be off-putting for some, but I still think it’s a beautifully written book.

I don’t think there’s a real, narrative-based connection between the stories, but it is very possible that it simply went over my head. There are certain themes (for example, the relationships between men and women) that run through all of them, but I think that’s the only real connection. If you’re a fan of classics, and especially modernist works, then you might well enjoy this, but I think it’s a book of rather niche appeal.

Rating: 7.7/10

This entry was posted in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *