The Immortal Moment

May Sinclair (1863 - 1946)

This is one of the later works of May Sinclair – a prolific author, literary critic, and feminist activist – famous in Britain and the US after the 1904 publication of The Divine Fire. The Immortal Moment concerns the defining episode in the life of Kitty Tailleur, a beautiful and enormously charming but “fallen” woman, who yearns to become respectable. As ever, Sinclair uses irony and understatement to expose the hypocrisy of the social order by revealing the tragic social reality of women’s powerlessness within it.

While on holiday at a small seaside hotel Kitty attracts the love of a truly good man. Though good to the core, Robert Lucy, a widower with two young daughters, is emotionally undeveloped and naïve. Kitty’s own maturity has been stultified by her circumscribed life as a mistress in the demi-monde. Yet their love is deep and passionate. They plan to marry, which Kitty hopes will liberate her from a life of sexual servitude and degradation. The story unfolds a series of potential threats to the consummation of their happiness, leaving the outcome uncertain to the last. Will Kitty fall victim to the gossip and hints of various guests at the hotel, who, less naïve than Robert, suspect her dubious past? Will her most recent lover betray her? How will the still dominant, still extreme Victorian prudery of the day influence the course of events? Can Kitty disregard the potential effect on Robert’s little girls, should her secret become known after she has become their second mother? Or will love conquer all (or most)?

Several well-drawn secondary characters influence the course of events. These include Kitty’s clinging but deeply repressed and everlastingly oppressed chaperone; Robert’s imaginative, loving, almost saintly sister; and the influential and urbane man who, until recently, has “kept” Kitty. - Summary by Kirsten Wever

Genre(s): Literary Fiction

Language: English

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