Rose Tremain – “The Closing Door”

My first reaction to this short story was to note that I enjoyed it very much! Stories that focus on familial relationships, particularly mother-daughter relationships, are especially appealing to me for some reason. What also immediately stuck out to me what the uniqueness of the two main characters names-Marjorie and Patience.

This story felt like a character study of sorts, delving into Marjorie’s issues with the loss of her husband to the war and now her daughter to boarding school. Clearly she feels out-of-place in more ways than one, not fitting in with the other mothers, not feeling right in South London, and not agreeing with her child’s grandparents. All of this is not uncommon, and it was an interesting look at parenting. Often parents are meant to be a sturdy rock for their children to lean on, but this story highlights and demonstrates that a parent is still a person with problems and fears and anxieties.

During the short phone call at the end, which interestingly Marjorie made from a phone booth, Patience takes on the role of the rock, assuring her mother that things are okay  at boarding school while things seem to be falling apart for Marjorie back in London. I think this small dialogue is a good ending to leave the reader wondering how Majorie will cope as time goes on, as her future seems much grimmer than Patience’s.