short story review: "The Judge's Will" by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Unlike so much of literary fiction, this story is not set in New York City and has nothing to do with MFA programs. If for that alone, it is a breath of fresh air.
The judge of the title had just had his second heart attack. He lives in a gloomy old family estate in Delhi. Aside from any health concerns, he decides it’s now time to let his wife and son know the contents of his will if only because he knows they’re both such lightweights they won’t carry out his wishes once he is gone. Plus his mistress of 25 years has been dropping hints about her own concerns since after his first heart attack.
The judge’s wife, Binny, reacts to the news of the mistress not as a betrayal but as a piece of juicy gossip. And the first person she runs to with this juicy piece of gossip is their son, Yasi. She gave up most of her girlfriends when she left her native Bombay at her marriage.
This is an interesting, if sad, character study in a refreshing setting. There is no hero, and no one exactly covers himself in glory. An underlying sadness permeates the lives of all the characters and a shifting of allegiances makes the reader see everything in a new light.
Title: “The Judge’s Will”
Published in: The Best American Short Stories 2014
Published: The New Yorker March 25, 2013
Author: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
©2015 Denise Longrie
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