Rosa Guy Francis Goskowski - Essay

Francis Goskowski

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It is impossible to respond to [Mirror of Her Own] with pleasure or to write about it without scorn. In Mirror of Her Own no one except foreigners behaves well; no one is honest, brave, or sincere; no one has the sense to reject the slobs and cruel little misses who inhabit the Abbots' world. The novel has no center, no moral compass. When Mary turns away from the Drysdales of this world, she retreats into herself. But what kind of solution is this? Emulating her narcissistic sister will not bring this profoundly confused adolescent any improvement in virtue or strength of character. At the end of the book she is just as pathetic as she was before. Ditto her parents, her sister, and her friends.

The literary style does not help. Ms. Guy specializes in pomposity: "Drizzle, mist, gloom, permeated her spirits"; "the stench of their awful capabilities, their spoiled friendship, had already become a casualty"; "she fell, and her face dug into the smell of rotten leaves." Young people interested in writing can only pick up bad habits from Mirror of Her Own.

Where are you, Jane Austen, when we need you?

Francis Goskowski, in his review of "Mirror of Her Own," in Best Sellers (copyright © 1981 Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation), Vol. 41, No. 6, September, 1981, p. 238.