Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Journey

Travel is frequently a foray into the unknown, at least in part. During a recent short trip to NY, I had to be flexible and go with the flow; in doing so, I experienced the present to a greater extent than I do in my everyday life. When it comes to travel, I'm a planner, and I do think ahead (I was diligent about printing out boarding passes within 24 hours of my departures), but I do not plan every single detail, because freedom and spontaneity are also important parts of travel. Having too rigid of a schedule, in travel (or in life), does not appeal much to me.

In the short story A Journey by Irish author Edna O'Brien (born December 15, 1930, in Twamgraney, County Clare, Ireland), a couple takes a journey together; travel is also a metaphor for the unknown. The main character is a woman who's taking a trip with an attractive man, Boyce (who lives with a woman, Madge, and their baby).
"To venture loving him was like crossing the Rubicon--also daft. Also dicey. A journey of pain. She had no idea then how extensive the journey would be."
~A Journey, Edna O'Brien
The story sensitively highlights the woman's thoughts about the situation; she's quite aware of her precarious position. Boyce wants his travel companion to remain a secret (she is unnamed in the story) as they travel from London to Scotland. Along with the heady excitement of the attraction is a feeling of marked uneasiness; the affair has just started and she questions the man's dedication to her, and to the woman he lives with and their young child as well. Boyce makes it clear that their romance must be kept clandestine, at least for the time being, and offers no promises for the future.

Edna O'Brien realistically portrays a scenario in which a woman's internal monologue expresses the numerous, inherent difficulties of the situation created by her impulsive choices; she is anxious and worries about a future with Boyce which may not be so rosy, which may not even exist. The author captures the angst of this couple, particularly of the woman, and this journey causes her a great deal of insecurity, understandably so. A Journey demonstrates Edna O'Brien's incredible ability to capture the emotions, inner voice, and thoughts of a woman.

I read this short story in the book Women & Fiction: Short Stories by and about Women, edited by Susan Cahill, for Irish Short Story Week, hosted by Mel from The Reading Life. Happy St. Patrick's Day to my readers!


  1. Thanks so much for joining in-later today I will post on O'Brien's "The Boy in the Forest"-a completely different sounding story which only makes her a great talent-

  2. Mel, thanks for stopping by. Your challenge reinvigorated my interest in short stories, and the collection of stories by and about women that I've been reading is excellent!

  3. Sounds like a great collection of stories. Great review, too.

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog today. Have a great one!

  5. It sounds like an interesting story, especially from the perspective of the woman. I would love to read this one, and am going to have to seek it out!

  6. Sometimes I forget about older books and short stories. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.

  7. Although I haven't read much short stories but hv njoyed that I've read so far. This story too sounds worth giving a try. Thanks for information about Irish Short Story Week :)

  8. I don't read too many short stories, but this one sounds really good. Thanks for the review!

  9. I need to start reading short stories ..capturing inner voices authentically is a huge challenge and any writer who's able to do that definitely needs to be read !

  10. I enjoy short stories and this one sounds good. I agree, spontaneity is an important part of life.

  11. Not an author I'm familiar with but then as you probably know I'm not a fan of short stories. I have a good friend who is though and I'll be sure to pass on these details on to her.

  12. That leprechaun picture is freaking me out a little! This sounds like a really involving and rich short story.

  13. Hi-I am just stopping by to offer you a personal invitation to join in for Irish Short Story Week Year Two-time flies-which starts Monday-it was your suggestion that really lead to this happening!-I hope you are well and can share your insight with us again

    Mel u-also let me know how you like my new collage

  14. I've read this story twice and I'm still thirsty to go through the fabulous suspense and mesmerizing depictions put by the author. It's so magnificent to be involved in the girl's inner thoughts and the rest....

    Do not hesitate to download it folks.


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