The theoretical foot /Published by : Bloomsbury Publishing, (London :) Physical details: 250 pages ; 22 cm. ISBN:9781408880852 (paperback); 1408880857.
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"When her long-time agent and friend Robert Lescher died in 2012, the manuscript of M.F.K. Fisher's unpublished first novel was discovered packed tidily away in one of Lescher's signature red boxes. Following on the success of Serve It Forth and written when she was in her early 30s, the novel employs Fisher's characteristic sharp-eyed wit to sketch themes so outre; they may have seemed too challenging for a proper woman of her time to attempt. Set in the late 1930s,The Theoretical Foot concerns two expat American couples in Europe, tramping from country to country without sanction of marriage, this during an era when cohabitation - to say nothing of a girl's hitchhiking! -- could ruin a respectable woman's reputation for all time. As fascism spreads and war inevitably approaches, the idyll of a beautiful life of love and freedom from convention is also threatened from within, as the man in one of the couples falls gravely ill with a rare circulatory disease. And indeed, Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher and Dillwyn Parrish had been forced to return to Depression-era California where she was struggling to support them with her writing. Parrish - like the character in the story -- was afflicted with Buerger's disease, for which there was only one effective painkiller, unavailable in the States. Faced with unrelieved agony and the threat of serial amputations, Parrish killed himself in August of 1941. Weeks later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the entire world was engulfed in war. Why this most autobiographical of stories was never published during Fisher's lifetime we cannot know but it may have been that it concerned itself not only with what was considered at that time to be a scandalous, licentious-seeming lifestyle but with a lost and beloved world, the European continent utterly transformed by war. And it may have been that her continued grief over her loss of the man she'd always later describe as her one great love made the book too painful for her to revisit"--