The Marvellous Girl by V.S. Pritchett, 1973
The magic trick:
A deceptively simple story that is at its core a romantic comedy
We wrap up our V.S. Pritchett Week with what I’d argue is probably the oddest story of the bunch.
Odd because it’s so normal.
It’s almost a romantic comedy. There is definitely a lot of the detailed social interaction analysis we’ve come to expect from Pritchett. There is definitely a lot of the subtext that has dominated the other stories of his we’ve read this week.
But for the most part, it’s kind of just a straight romance. He didn’t know he liked her. But he does like her. Now he just needs to find her so he can see if she likes him.
It sounds silly when mapped like that. And maybe it is. But it’s also kind of sweet.
And that’s quite a trick on Pritchett’s part.
“Enjoy yourselves,” said the young man. “I’m going home.”
“Goodbye.” She turned to wave to him as she followed his wife to the table.
It was that “goodbye” that did for him. It was a radiant “goodbye,” half laughing; he had seen her tongue and her even teeth as she laughed. Simply seeing him go had brought her still face to life. He went out of the restaurant, and in the leathery damp of the street he could see her face following him from lamp to lamp. “Goodbye, goodbye,” it was still saying. And that was when he changed his mind. An extraordinary force pulled his scattered mind together; he determined to go to the meeting and to send to her, if he could see her in the crowd, a blinding, laughing, absolute goodbye forever, as radiant as hers.
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