Maria, fair of face, full of impish grace.

I'm headed north on the train. The Mediterranean passes by the window. I'm sitting at one of the cafe car tables, my legs crossed, my arms crossed, my suitcase at my feet. The steam of my coffee uncoils like a thread into the air, a rope I wish I could climb away.

Sixteen-year-old Maria returns to her parents' home in the French countryside. Her ill mother faces her last days and her preoccupied father has grown even more distant. In the shadow of her parents' sorrow, Maria pursues a much older man, a disreputable art collector. She is infatuated with him, as with the French paintings she has come to love. Maria enters a world of tenderness and captivity, of transgression and awakening, and of art and sensuality. Lyrical, painterly and erotic, Indolence is a portrait of a young girl's haunting passage into womanhood.

"It's rare to read a debut as extraordinary as Indolence by Alison Wellford; it's one of the sleekest, bravest, and most explosive first novels I've read in years. Indolence's tremendous achievements lie in the gorgeously wrought prose and a moral ambiguity so perfectly deployed that, even months after having read the book, I feel haunted by Wellford's strange and lovely work."

- Lauren Groff, Arcadia

"Alison Wellford captures a story as passionate and elemental as a Greek myth in breathless, painterly prose. Maria's voice becomes that of all those nudes in countless paintings by men, the voice of prostitutes and child-lovers, of women giving their bodies in the streets and dying of tuberculosis as they are rendered radiantly immortal. Indolence, the story of a young woman's sensual and sentimental education, is a profound and beautifully written novel."

- Naeem Murr, The Perfect Man

"A sensual, complexly intelligent tale about the daughter of ex-pats in France who loses her mother and enters an underworld of sex, transgression, and fantasy. Erotic and aesthetically rich, every page of Indolence is charged with icy passion and beauty."

- Jane Alison, Change Me: Stories of Sexual Transformation from Ovid

Alison Wellford earned her BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She has worked in photography and design for fifteen years in various cities in Europe and currently resides in Barcelona. Her work has appeared in the Gettysburg Review, among other journals, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

"If you loved Lolita, you will love Indolence, the debut novel from Alison Wellford. Unlike Nabokov's gem, however, Indolence isn't hilarious, but it is taut, fresh, lyrical, and constantly engaging.

Set mostly in the south of France, Indolence delivers the voice of Maria, a highly intelligent late teenager struggling with the woes that all late teenagers face—boredom, ennui, alienation. It's a long solitary summer, filled with her parents' drunken parties and her mother's brutal terminal illness, which will take her life near the end of the season leaving Maria with both her own grief and the grief of her father. For such reasons she finds herself wishing for some other kind of life, and she finds it in Omar, a family friend and neighbor, a much older man who is an art thief. At least forty years her senior, he attracts her with his sophistication but also with the sense of transgression that attachment with him seems to offer. She "disappears" and runs away with him.

"Together they embark on a journey of stasis, of constant sex, of hiding themselves in his house, ironically so nearby her family home. . . a dazzling novel."

- The Barcelona Review

"Wellford's accomplished debut offers a portrait of a May-December romance, which comforts a vulnerable young woman -- until it doesn't. Sixteen-year-old Maria, resentful after being enrolled in an American boarding school while her mother convalesces in the French countryside, returns home for summer vacation. Her mother's cancer, however, is more advanced than Maria knew, and her father's anxiety manifests itself as deliberately distant, "noxiously quiet." Feeling adrift and underfoot, Maria fixates on Omar, a much older man who has expressed interest in her. Her advances are soon returned, and the two embark on a love affair that eventually cuts Maria off even further from her family. Omar, an art collector living in a ramshackle house, offers more than an erotic education for Maria -- but at the novel's end, it's unclear, even years after the affair has ended, whether or how Maria's growing interest in art and artists will shape her adult life. The novel's appropriately languid tone and expressive descriptions, particularly of the natural world, offers an impressionistic portrait not only of Maria's surroundings but also of her state of mind. Maria's voice not only carries readers through these pages, but will stick with them afterward."

- Publishers Weekly

"Indolence has connotations of wishing to avoid trouble, love of ease, laziness, avoidance of responsibility, disinclination to exertion -- all of which we find in the novel. At the party at the beginning of the summer, Maria’s mother calls Omar “the do-nothing king” and Maria picks this up, in her autumn hiding, calling their couple: “le roi et la reine-fainéante.” A secondary, medical, meaning for indolence is that of freedom from pain or suffering -- which is I think the narrator’s goal: deliverance from suffering caused and experienced."

- Necessary Fiction

by Alison Wellford
210 pages
$16.00 paperback ISBN 9781937402662
$9.99 ebook ISBN 9781937402679

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