As Franklin keenly observes, “One of the ironies of Jackson’s fiction is the essential role that women play in enforcing the standards of the community—standards that hurt them most.”In a biography densely packed with anecdotes, letters, highly detailed descriptions, and lengthy, thoughtful analyses of most of Jackson’s work, Franklin paints a picture of Jackson as creatively fulfilled but isolated and unhappy.She relied on Hyman for critical feedback, but resented her dependence on him.
Her mother hectored her mercilessly about her weight and bad habits from the time she was a child until the last days of her life.
And while Jackson relished the magic of two smart women bonding (a staple of her work), she didn’t seem to have that many close, lasting female friendships in real life—though not for lack of effort on her part.
Even the pairs in Jackson’s novels are inevitably threatened by jealousy, betrayal, and the larger forces (manipulative paramours, bloodthirsty mobs, supernatural beings) working against them.
In his view, all enlightened bohemians recognized that monogamy was a faulty construct designed for high-capitalist sheep.
Jackson wrote him angry letters about his affairs, but rarely sent them.