Friday, February 3, 2023

Rhoda by Ellen Gilchrist


In this anthology, readers are for the first time able to read all of the Rhoda stories by Ellen Gilchrist.  Before this, the stories have been released at various times and in various media but are finally all collected in one volume.  Rhoda is one of this author's favorite characters.  We see Rhoda starting out as an indulged child, a tomboy who is the only daughter in a family of boys and the apple of her millionaire father's eye.  She feels she is ugly with her red hair, freckles and chunky body. 

Later, we see Rhoda as a teenager.  She has slimmed down and discovered boys.  She is desperate to try sex and has it with the first boy she can.  At college, she goes to another college for a football weekend, meets and sleeps with a man, and soon impulsively marries him.  The babies start arriving, one quickly after the other until Rhoda has three boys and is tired of her husband.

We follow Rhoda over the years.  In her twenties and thirties, she has several husbands and lovers.  She is never an attentive mother, feeling that the children keep her from what she needs to do with her life, although she isn't sure what that is.  The love of her life is a former sports star, a man whose records remain long after he leaves the field.  They have an affair that lasts years, but he is married and has no plans to leave his wife and children.  

Rhoda decides to become a writer and goes to a small college where she writes short stories and starts to get published.  She becomes a novelist and has success but as she ages, she longs for the days when she turned men's' heads.  As she ages, she starts to value her family again and to spend more time with them.  Rhoda is a character readers will remember for a long time.  This anthology is recommended for readers who like short stories.

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