Book Review – Passing

by Nella Larsen

Started: 4th October 2014

Finished: 5th October 2014

This novella is on one of my reading lists. The synopsis intrigued me so I felt that it would be a good one to read next.

The novella focuses on protagonist Irene Redfield and her friendship with Clare Kendry. After years without talking, Clare suddenly comes back into Irene’s life, where Irene learns that Clare is hiding her identity from her racist husband which Irene is very wary of.

I really liked Irene’s character, if I was in her position I think I would have acted the way she did (except for the end, I hope). I could just understand what she did and why she acted in certain ways. I didn’t like Clare Kendry, I could kind of understand why she would want to ‘pass’ for a white woman, but I couldn’t understand why she put herself in the danger that she did. It’s because of this that I found her character maddening.

As this was only a novella it was at a fairly quick pace, however it was easy to keep up with. There is a twist to the story, however I did find it quite predictable. The novella is split into three parts and they each slowly build on each other. I did enjoy the plot up until the very abrupt ending. I would have liked more of an explanation, however as it was written in first person you can see why there wasn’t much detail at the end.

Passing was a good, quick, story, however it wasn’t without faults. I would definitely recommend it as it is an interesting read but there are a couple of problems (in my eyes) with the end.

Rating: 3/5

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