23 July 2013

ambiguity

I read an interesting book recently, The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman. It tells the story of a disadvantaged mother in 1831 England and what she does to protect her baby in the midst of a cholera epidemic. "Dress lodging" refers to a whore renting a fancy dress so she can attract fancier johns. It's a very dramatic story and well-written. Moreover, it has an interesting point-of-view, with the author often addressing the reader. I don't think it will be too much of a spoiler to reveal some people do die of cholera.
However, the ending is ambiguous. A positive life for the dress lodger is suggested for the audience, but we have no way of knowing if it will come to pass. When a novel or story has an ambiguous ending, it's up to the reader to decide what will happen. Even more than usual the reader plays an integral part in an ambiguous-ending story.

What do you think will happen to the dress lodger? A happy ending? Death via cholera?
Whatever you decide it says a lot about you. :)

Does Electric Spec publish a lot of ambiguous-ending stories? Savvy readers know the answer to that question, but I'll give you a hint: No.

1 comment:

RenataH said...

Is that the speculative part of *The Dress Lodger* -- guessing who will die of cholera? Seriously though, I don't like most speculative ending stories in any genre, Lesley, because most of them are not well-written and leave me wondering if the author just couldn't come up with a successful ending.