Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The primary meaning of “Reservations: A Love Story” is conveyed by its antithetical title. The story is a love story, even if its title contains a trace of irony, even if its two protagonists go into their marriage with reservations. The reader may think initially that Franny and Miles have entirely too many reservations and areas of duplicity, but on further reflection one realizes that they are typical of any young couple. Peter Taylor helps the reader to see their genuine love for one another as well as gaping areas of difference and suggests implicitly that all marriages are made of such materials.

Both Franny and Miles want marriage on their own terms. Franny is delighted to find a charming, promising husband with no parents or brothers and sisters, and friends so far away that they will rarely visit; she plans to stay in her hometown and transform Miles into a Crowell, instead of making herself a Miller. Miles, on the other hand, wishes to marry an unspoiled innocent girl, unlike the girls with whom he attended college, and is delighted to find Franny in Cincinnati, a midwestern city that is largely southern in its orientation. Franny is sexually innocent, but is not artless and has distinct plans for absorbing Miles into her vision of upper-middle-class life. The reader senses enough steel in Miles to surmise that he will play that role only up to a point.

Franny’s sojourn in the locked bathroom and her rescue by the prostitute and her customer, hotel assistant manager Bill Carlisle, are the catalysts that make evident the differing temperaments and aims of Franny and Miles. The comic nature of the situation undercuts the gravity of their differences and leads the reader to have hope for this marriage of opposites.