Neglected Books: ‘The Immortal Moment: The Story of Kitty Tailleur’, and ‘The Creators: A Comedy’ by May Sinclair

The Immortal Moment: The Story of Kitty Tailleur ****
As with the rest of Sinclair’s early work, I had not much of an idea as to what The Immortal Moment: The Story of Kitty Tailleur was about before I began.  The novel’s opening paragraph is stunning, and appeals to each of the senses.

As with two of her previous works, The Judgment of Eve and The Helpmate, there is a detailed female character study in this novel; in fact, more than one if one includes Miss Keating, who is our title character’s companion.  She decides that she wants to find a different position after listening to the malicious gossip banded around by the other guests in the hotel in which they are staying.  The Immortal Moment is strongly characterised, and the conversations which take place, particularly between Kitty and Miss Keating, are wonderfully believable.  They are never cliched or overdone, but well thought out, and translated masterfully to the page.  One cannot help but feel a rather overwhelming sense of sympathy for Kitty at points.  She has such agency; she is an incredibly complex female subject, through which such interesting ideas are presented about womanhood and motherhood.

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Photo credit: ‘bookpickers’ on Etsy

One can see that Sinclair’s foray into psychology, and the inclusion of consciousness within her literature, is beginning to come to the fore here; she discusses the male mind in part, and makes full use of her titular character to write about a woman’s position within society, and the effects this was like to have upon her.

 

 

The Creators: A Comedy ****
Sinclair provides full portraits of each of those she has focused upon within The Creators: A Comedy.  The males are sometimes a little shadowy, but the interactions between each of the characters more than make up for this.  In The Creators, Sinclair begins to overtly touch upon psychology in the case of Jane; another character named Henry is a psychiatrist, and seems to view her largely in terms of what he sees as her neuroses.  Meek Laura, too, is seen by the males around her as feeble and suffering with mental strain; this, perhaps, can be explained with the stress that her father’s illness brings.

The Creators begins in 1902 and follows several characters, the most interesting of whom is writer Jane Holland, who is known affectionately as Jinny – and who, through her published work, is able to exercise her independence within the male sphere.  George Tanqueray is another author, who marries rather a common but kindly girl named Rose Eldred.  Rose is the very epitome of the domestic woman, cooking, cleaning, and nursing.  She is, essentially, the antithesis to Jane; she is the Angel of the House.

I was intrigued by the title of this particular tome; Sinclair’s work is brilliant, but comedic is not an adjective which I would apply.  As I suspected, The Creators is not a comedy; for the most part, it is more of a tragic piece.  It has such depth to it, and has just as much to offer the modern reader as more popular novels written during the same period.  Sinclair has such empathy, and such understanding of and for the characters she creates here.  The multi-character focus is both effective and enjoyable, as are the way in which pairs converged at points.  The many themes in The Creators are clever and well-handled, and the novel is rather modern in terms of the progressive ideas and attitudes which it presents.

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