, Nicola Griffith's second novel, is set in the
not-so-distant future. It tells the story of Lore, a young
woman from one of the world's wealthiest families, who
is kidnapped, then escapes, and goes into hiding in the
underbelly of society. Through an intimate relationship
with Spanner, an underclass woman who helped Lore survive,
Lore sheds the skin of her former identity and explores
a sometimes-liberating, yet fundamentally destructive
new way of life. As she also digs into the murky layers
of her own troubled family roots, Lore questions who she
is and who she can be.
unusual book is remarkably clear about how class influences
our lives-from the personal sphere to the vast web of
corporate empires. It grippingly portrays the sweat-and-blood
struggles of human beings at opposite ends of a class
system, each wrestling to transcend the confines of their
upbringing and a class-ordered world.
into the bathroom with me." Spanner positioned Lore in
front of the mirror, hands on her shoulders. Lore did
not like the possessive feel of those hands, but it was
Spanner's bathroom, Spanner's mirror. "Now, take a look
at yourself, a really good look. Then look at me."
studied herself... She thought she looked remarkably good
considering what she had been through. "I think I look
look at me."
skin was big-pored over her nose and cheekbones. There
was a tiny scar by her mouth. Her teeth were uneven, her
neck thin. Her complexion had a grayish tinge, like meat
left just a little too long. Lore thought she looked a
lot better than Spanner.
was nodding at her in the mirror. "Exactly.
You see the difference? You're too damn... glossy. Like
a race-horse. Look at your eyes, and your teeth. They're
perfect. And your skin: not a single pimple and no scars.
Everything's symmetrical. You're bursting with health.
Go out in the neighborhood, even in rags, and you'll shine
like a lighthouse."
looked at herself again. It was true. Eighteen years of
uninterrupted health care and nutritious food on top of
three generations of good breeding had given her that
unmistakable sheen of the hereditary rich. She was suddenly
aware of the cold tile under her feet, of the cracks she
could feel between her toes. It was not yet winter. She
wondered what it would be like to be cold involuntarily.
She touched her eyebrows, her nose. How strange to discover
something about oneself in a stranger's bathroom. "I assume
it can be fixed."
with permission from
Nicola Griffith (New York: Ballantine, 1995).
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