‘Villa Marta’ by Clare Boylan

Villa Marta by Clare Boylan, 1984

The magic trick:

A strange mix of sexual maturity and extreme naiveté

Two girls are on vacation. They’re innocent but not that innocent. We see something similar in Edna O’Brien’s “Irish Revel,” wherein the protagonist is naïve about the world and longs for a sexual education, only to find that the reality is not nearly as romantic as she had imagined. In “Villa Marta,” our protagonist doesn’t imagine romance as much as she imagines luxury and comfort. As you might guess, her education – like that of Edna O’Brien’s reveler – proves disappointing (and more than a little disconcerting for the reader). And that’s quite a trick on Boylan’s part.

The selection:

They stretched out beside the pool and talked about food and records and sex appeal and sex. Already they had learned a thing or two. Sally had discovered, from a survey in Time magazine, that smoking added fifty per cent more sex appeal to a girl. They wondered if you were hopelessly, truly in love, would you know because you would even think a man’s thing was nice-looking. This was a mystery and also a risk because if such a love did not exist and you spent your life waiting for it, you would be on the shelf, an old maid and hairy.

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