26 Sep 2010
"Love's Shadow" - Love and let love
Do you like the comedic parts of Jane Austen's novels? Do you enjoy romantic entaglements and witty repartee? Then look nu further than "Love's Shadow" by Ada Leverson. It has been reprinted as part of the Bloomsbury Group and it defintely deserves being reprinted as it is a little gem of a book: funny, sweet and well-written with spot-on portraits of a group of people in Edwardian London.
Edith and Bruce Ottley lives in an apartment - a small apartment, that Bruce habitually describes as much grander than it really is and consequently he doesn't want too many visitors. They have less money than Bruce spends and he has less talent and less intelligence than he credits himself with. He is the male version of Mrs. Bennett. Luckily he has kind, understanding, forgiving Edith who is friends with the glamorous Hyancinth Verney who falls in love easily and recovers just as easily until she meets Cecil Reeve. Reeve is in love with a widow much older than himself - how will Hyacinth win him over?
I really enjoyed this little book - my only real complaint is that it is too short. I wanted to know more when I came to the end. The characters are enjoyable, especially the strange relationship between Bruce and Edith fascinated me. How did she end up with a man like him? I would really like to understand that. And how does she cope with his incessant warped self-understanding and his less than truthful truths? I did not find Hyacinth as interesting though the relationship between her and her guardian Sir Charles and his wife Lady Cannon was really interesting, especially towards the end of the book. Again, how did he end up married to her? But the romance between Hyacinth and Cecil Reeve had me less fascinated, I honestly do not understand what she sees in him.
Not understanding why certain people fall in love with each other seem to be a recurrent theme in this book. The characters are all married to people with whom they seem incompatible and at some point there must have been love or at least attraction there. A fascinating subject, especially when you take into consideration that the story is set during a time when divorces were not abundant as they are today. Let me close off the review with a quote that sums up the mechanics of the marriage between Lady Cannon and Sir Charles brilliantly:
"Lady Cannon had a very exalted opinion of her own charms, virtues, brilliant gifts, and, above all, of her sound sense. Fortunately for her, she had married a man of extraordinary amiability, who had always taken every possible precaution to prevent her discovering that in this opinion she was practically alone in the world." (pp. 22)