Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson (Canada) - (US)
Little Ottleys Trilogy, Book 1
Pages: 225 pages
Finished: Mar. 15, 2010
First Published: 1908 (US pb Bloomsbury Group edition Mar. 2010)
Genre: romantic comedy
"There's only one thing I must really implore you, Edith," said Bruce anxiously, " Don't make me late at the office!"
Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Group Canada.
Reason for Reading: I'm reading all the Bloomsbury Group books.
Summary: This is Edith Ottley's story, though I wouldn't call her the main character. Though it is through Edith that all the characters can be traced back (as in the six degrees of Kevin Bacon). Edith and Bruce Ottley are a young married couple with a two year old son. Bruce is hard to describe without making him sound like a chauvinistic brute. He is also a hypochondriac and would rather not work and be served upon day and night. This is Bruce's character, but it is a pastiche of the weak yet dominating husband, though not mean-spirited, just self-centred. Edith takes advice from friends, especially her mother-in-law, and always complying cheerfully she never looses the upperhand and laughs off Bruce without him even knowing it. There is also Edith's friend Hyacinth, the real main character, who is a young twenties girl living on her own, with a companion, who is in love with a man who is love with someone else. Every other man is in love (or infatuation) with her including her friends' husbands, her former guardian and her ladies companion.
Comments: Hyacinth's story becomes the main focus of the plot while Edith and Bruce's stays in the foreground being the centre from which all other story arcs are in one way or another related. These other story arcs are filled with secondary characters having relationship problems themselves. Hyacinth's love, Cecil, is in love with an older woman Eugenia, who has vowed never to marry again and thinks of him as a boy anyway. Anne, Hyacinth's ladies companion gives very intelligent advice but is jealous of anyone who will take Hyacinth away from her. Then there's Bruce, who like everyman, is attracted to Hyacinth as well, but from afar and by drilling his wife on her visits with her.
Many other characters are intertwined as well and the dialogue is full of wit and repartie. Every character is simply adorable and lovable, even the mysterious Mr. Raggett who we never really fully understand but who, unlike the other men in this story, has fallen for Edith and woos her. Bruce, himself, does take some getting used to, being the only non-likable character but he always comes up short against Edith, without even knowing it and this quiet battle of the sexes is quite humorous.
It took me several chapters (short as they are) to get into the book but once I'd met everyone and the story got going I was completely smitten with everything, everyone and all the goings on in Knightsbridge, England. This is an intelligent, bright, witty romantic comedy. A truly delightful story that can be summed up in that ubiquitous term "the British cozy".