Odile Travers’ name comes from St. Odile of Alsace, not the character from Swan Lake. St. Odile was born blind but got her sight when she was baptized. I think that’s a metaphor for what happens to many of us when we “find” God, and our eyes seem to be opened for the first time. That’s the idea in The Blindness of Odile, the newest novel from Pamella Bowen.
Ambitious and self-centered, Odile sets off to study in England at Cambridge University, hoping to impress enough people to make it in international relations. Her pride goes before her literal and figurative fall—into the river Cam. Enter a cast of lovable misfits who take the “lost American” into their care, guiding her to her transformation. These guardian angels include a grumpy friar, a candy-munching nun, and a ginger-haired bartender.
The story is set in 1970, where Odile is shocked by the way the English do things, like answer the phone and incinerate sanitary towels! England seems to conspire against her slick American confidence, replacing it with sterner stuff built on love and compassion.
The Blindness of Odile launches in April of 2021. Watch for updates.