Mary Gordon’s Final Payments is one of the few novels I’ve encountered that shock me just after reading what its plot is all about. It doesn’t just caught my attention –not that the plot is something capable of shocking- but also makes me nod in recognition in reasons I would just keep for myself.
Isabel Moore, the novel’s protagonist is suddenly launched into life after the death of her father whom she took care for eleven years. Being twenty-nine and is stripped of the idea what to do with her life now that she is alone at first thrilled her. It offers her something new, something exciting and took it as if accepting a new adventure. Indeed, having a new life to live is such an exciting experience. Like changing identity, leaving the past and being free from it. Deciding on things she knew herself we’re the best ideas and decisions. A journey with no hints and clues but with her two girl-friends, a priest and her father’s friends and an old lady -that for a time serves as a housemaid for Isabel and her father- to seek help and lean on to. But it is also a terrifying one for Isabel, having no experience at all on something for her to land on a decent job, experiencing things she should have experienced long before when she was still young and active. What decisions in life she has come through somehow manages her to assess herself and ask if she is living in the right way. But before she starts a new, Isabel decides to pay the final payments just before going through what life has left for her.
What I could mostly say about Mary Gordon’s prose here in her debut novel is how she constructs the whole story. I didn’t notice something special about her sentences but when you start to gather them in whole, constructing images in your mind, reading every page is a delight. Every voice of Ms. Gordon’s characters’ makes you care for them that I sometimes doubt the protagonist, even hate Isabel for doing something and its effects on people around her. It is as if you’re caught between two people you care for and doesn’t have an idea on whose side will you choose. The novel also makes me conscious of Isabel’s decision as to what will happen to her. And nearly at the end of the novel, one of Isabel’s virtues really caught me of guard for it is one of the most original and humane acts I’ve ever read, that I doubt it being perform in real life.
Published in 1978 to great acclaim, Final Payments capability to moved and inspire, its effect and power is still recognizable in my opinion as it is first received and almost 35 years has passed before I encounter the novel. I recommend this one with my warm heart.
Opening Sentence: My father’s funeral was full of priest.
Ending Sentence: There was a great deal I wanted to say.