Indelicacy is an elegant, haunting novel about class, desire, friendship, art, and the battle to find one’s true calling.
In an undefined era and place, a cleaning woman at a museum of art aspires to do more than simply dust the paintings around her. She dreams of having the liberty to explore them in writing, and so must find the way to win herself the security and time to use her mind. She escapes her lot by marrying a rich man, but having gained a husband, a house, high society and a maid, she finds that her new life of privilege is no less constrained. Not only has she taken up different forms of time-consuming labour – social and erotic – but she is now, however passively, forcing other women to clean up after her. Perhaps another and more drastic solution is necessary?
‘Her bone-clean prose creates a sense of immersion in a story that feels both mythic and true . . . A woman’s search for creativity is not a new subject, yet Cain has made it so.’ Guardian