More Than Money
Issue #17

Cross-Class Relationships

Table of Contents

“Slow River”

Slow River , 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.

This 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.

From Slow River:

"Come 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."

Lore studied herself... She thought she looked remarkably good considering what she had been through. "I think I look fine."

"Now look at me."

Spanner's 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.

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."

Lore 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."

Reprinted with permission from Slow River by Nicola Griffith (New York: Ballantine, 1995).


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