There are often works that are far ahead of their respective historical time periods and Possible Women is one such work. Originally written in 1950, Ida Baird’s portrayal of women, gender roles and even the portrayal of her male main character would have been offensive and out of line for that time. Baird’s three women in focus – Eva, Dinah and Lili – are strong, outspoken and at times crazy. These women become almost an obsession for Dr. Alex Gold who will find that his fate is tied to theirs. The tragic love that he has for two of the women will affect his life, thought processes and attitude forever. At a time where women were probably more suited to be seen and not heard, having three intense female leads captivate the book is impressive. It is also interesting how Gold seems to float along with the current that the women lay out for him. Their hold is evident even when they are gone.
The novel is set in Texas/Mexico during a time of confusion, change and hostility. These undercurrents run through the novel and hit within every main character. Possible Women was a bit hard to get into and it is hard at first to sort through the narration, distinguish the women and discover the connections. Once the story reaches the midway point, the tales begin to spin together and the book becomes a little bit easier to follow. Dr. Gold is quiet, observant, at times hysterical and melancholy. He over thinks and feels deeply and seemingly has a hard time moving beyond events and relationships that he comes in contact with. This is especially evident of his relationship and reaction to Dinah (Diana). When Dinah enters the text, the novel takes a turn and at this point the story becomes more engaging, tragic and Dr. Gold begins to develop more as a person rather than just a narrative voice.
The story is rough, violent, passionate and at times upsetting. Possible Women shows the reader the complexities of not only women, wives, husbands, lovers, children and mothers, but also how these relationships bleed into and stain life itself. There are searing events, painful discussions and agonizing observations that are laid out in a stark way and make it seems as if Dr. Gold is at times intruding on something he should not even be witnessing. At times, it seems that he is uncomfortable in his own skin which just adds another dimension to the strength and intensity of the women presented.
The book in places is wordy and confusing and there are described details and even people who do not seem to really fit into the story. In spite of this, Ida Baird writes strongly and eloquently and the story that emerges is different, poignant, emotional and at times, very uncomfortable. Possible Women is an interesting book for readers looking for a different perspective on people, relationships and human reactions.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Ida Baird. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.