The Shadow of Desire

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Ginger Moore is a biographer of brilliant women who were unable to do what they desperately wanted to do. She is fascinated by their common paralysis just before a crucial moment of accomplishment, obsessively researching their characters and tormented lives which always ended without fulfillment. The routine Christmas journey, in 1952, from Manhattan to her family home in suburban Michigan brings thirty-eight-year-old Ginger to startling discoveries about her connection with these women of the past.

Ginger travels to her parent’s home with the persistent panel of judges presiding in the back of her mind, warning her incessantly to be reasonable and cautious. She leaves behind her occasional lover, a young comedian who makes a practice of using her and her family as material for his act. The reader is introduced to Ginger’s parents and younger brother as the family engages in their holiday traditions: the yearly outing to choose the most decrepit tree they can find and watching the film PSYCHO together on Christmas Eve. Traditions are broken this year, however, by Ginger’s encounter with herself amidst revelations of long-held family secrets, regrets, and disguised pain.

Rebecca Stowe’s THE SHADOW OF DESIRE takes place in the short span of a few weeks. The reader is led through a course of emotion and discovery by the author’s sensitive ability to write about both simple human activities and profound, debilitating tragedy as they exist intermingled within a family. She delicately weaves piercing humor, sharp perception, and deep, searing emotion to tell the story of a woman’s ultimate release from despair.