The only novel by avant-garde literary star Jane Bowles, the highly influential wife of legendary writer Paul Bowles, Two Serious Ladies is a modernist cult classic, mysterious, profound, anarchic, and funny, that follows two "respectable" women as they descend into debauchery—updated with an introduction by Claire Messud, bestselling author of The Emperor's Children and The Woman Upstairs.
Christina Goering, eccentric and adventurous, and Frieda Copperfield, anxious but enterprising, are two serious ladies who want to live outside of themselves. Old friends, each will take a surprising path in search of salvation: during a visit to Panama, Mrs. Copperfield abandons her husband, finding solace in a relationship with a teenage prostitute; while Miss Goering, a wealthy spinster, pursues sainthood via sordid encounters with the basest of men. At the end the two women meet again, each radically altered by her experience.
Jane Bowles has long had an underground reputation as one of the truly original writers of the twentieth century. Born in New York City in 1917, she lived in Tangier, Morocco, with her husband, Paul Bowles, from 1952 until her death in 1973. Though she wrote only one novel, one short play, and fewer than a dozen short stories over a roughly twenty-year span from the early 1940s to the mid-1960s, Jane Bowles has long been regarded by critics as one of the premier stylists of her generation.