I think it is important in a study of Tennessee Williams to look further than just his drama. I stumbled upon this small, mysterious volume in the library and wondered if it was really the same author - nobody had ever told me he wrote anything other than his famous plays. I was surprised and intrigued, and read it immediately.
Of course, I realised immediately, it is unmistakeably the same Williams we know and love, the man whose protagonists tend to be fading American beauties...But don't let this put you off. It should never be said that Williams just uses the same character in everything he writes (Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, Blanche DuBois in Streetcar, and now Karen Stone...) The similarites are very evident, but they are all slightly different in their psychologies and situations. It must be remembered that Williams, as a gay man, during the 1940's would not have been able to express his sentiments through an openly gay main character. He thus uses fragile and sensitive women as examples of the weaker people of society at the time.
I found this quirky, elegant novel very interesting. Its Italian setting is unusual for Williams and very believable. The story has the feel of a poem, because nothing much actually happens, but there is a great sense of atmosphere. Williams' prevalence as a theatrical writer definitely shows through - he is concerned with scene and tone and performance of his characters. It is beautiful to read, and another example of his perception of, and sensitivity to, human emotion. One only needs to look at the detailed and elaborate stage directions in Scene One of The Glass Menagerie to see that Williams had a talent for description as well as dialogue. Writing prose like this in The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone reveals Williams descriptive voice.