Passing - Nella Larsen, Thadious M. Davis
A short, suspenseful tale, centered on the stressed personage of Irene Redfield. She thinks she's made a perfect life for herself, completely centered on her doctor husband Brian and her two sons, but the cost she's paying for this becomes more clear throughout the book. She resolutely blocks out thoughts of racism (which she rarely experiences in public because she looks white) and wishes that her sons could also live in a sheltered world, trying to keep them innocent. She needs her husband's money to create her carefully defended security, but it turns out to be difficult to get him to cooperate in her ideas; she's described as trying hard to tame his "restlessness".

Clare is a "having" person, and gets what she wants; Brian wants more too, but his color prevents him from just taking what he wants. Clare, above all, is a seductive figure: besides that her extraordinary beauty enchants everyone, including Irene, she entices with her apparent freedom to move between the Black and White worlds. Her apparent ease in doing so, in both directions, is what makes her "whiter" than Irene; whites always have more options. This is part of the reason Irene kills Clare; Clare is threatening to leave her husband, her last seeming constraint, and the words that Irene finds unbearable are "Clare, free!". (Another part of the murder is the ideas about lesbian sexuality in those days -- Irene is turned murderous by her attraction to Clare.) In turn, Irene is lighter-skinned than her servants.

This is just a part of the reflections that went through my head as I read this most fascinating book.