Marlowe Granados reviews three books about women living their best lives in the big city
Marlowe Granados is a writer, filmmaker and podcaster based in Toronto. She's fascinated by a certain kind of young woman in fiction, movies and books — a spirited adventurer, taking all she can from life with her smarts and her charisma.
Granados is the author of Happy Hour, a novel about two women in their 20s — Isa Epley and her best friend Gala — who are having the time of their lives in New York City during the summer of 2013. She's also a columnist for The Next Chapter.
She told Shelagh Rogers about three books featuring young women using wile and wits as they navigate the city.
The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy
"The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy is about this young woman from mysterious circumstances. She is originally from New York and moves to London. She has her eyes set on ensnaring this literary celebrity who she knows has a certain amount of money.
"But then over the course of the novel, you realize that her scheme is much more personal, because then it starts to feel like you actually don't know who this young woman is at all and her back story.
They may not know exactly what their motivations are, but they do have that energy for it to really go all the way with a plan.
"This one in particular really had me by surprise. You could feel the main character's hunger for trying to get something out of this man that she felt was hers. And that kind of hunger, it's a fine line, I think, when you want something so badly that you're willing to do anything and give up anyone to get it.
"It showed that how much force is in young women. They may not know exactly what their motivations are, but they do have that energy for it to really go all the way with a plan."
Lote by Shola von Reinhold
"Lote by Shola von Reinhold is a contemporary novel that was actually first published in 2020 in England and is getting its North American release in May of this year. It follows this young woman who is an artist in London, and she starts working at a library and starts working within these archives.
"And it's so much about curation and the individual person and their power to curate their life and to create a sort of decadence and glamour within their life, even in these contemporary times which often feel very unglamorous.
"It's about this young woman who starts to uncover this history that she's really interested in, about the modernists in London and a Black artist that's hanging out with the whole modernist set of the Bloomsbury Group. The main character, Matilda, finds a photograph of this artist and becomes so transfixed on uncovering this hidden queer and Black history in London.
It is very much about finding a reason for why you would be drawn to decadence and drawn to art and beauty and what that comes from.
"What really got me about this novel is we don't necessarily have a clear picture of people who weren't white in the past. But there were people who were living within these groups that were infiltrating these groups as much as they could in the past, but they just aren't remembered. It is very much about finding a reason for why you would be drawn to decadence and drawn to art and beauty and what that comes from.
"And that was something that I felt really excited about discovering this novel. And I'm so excited for it to come out this year so that North America can discover it too."
The End of the World and Other Stories by Mavis Gallant
"The End of the World and Other Stories by Mavis Gallant. I love the whole story of Mavis and actually my Canadian editor and publisher, Martha Sharpe, she was in correspondence with Mavis til the end of her life. So I had known that about Martha and Mavis before, but I had never read Mavis's short stories.
Her stories are very international, let's say, and also have that feeling of being in a place that's not where you're born.
"These were really interesting to me because Mavis was born Canadian but then also expatriated to Paris. So her stories are very international, let's say, and also have that feeling of being in a place that's not where you're born.
"The stories are about having to grapple with that and grapple with languages and finding a group of friends can show you around and being involved in romantic situations in these different cities."
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
LISTEN | Mavis Gallant in conversation with Eleanor Wachtel