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How do you love someone who sits, smiling, at the edge of oblivion? Award-winning Canadian writer Barbara Gowdy unravels a romance, and the idea of romance, in this spry, witty, agile novel full of all the species of love.
How do you love someone who sits, smiling, at the edge of oblivion? Award-winning Canadian writer Barbara Gowdy unravels a romance, and the idea of romance, in this spry, witty, agile novel full of all the species of love. Louise Kirk falls in love. She's 10, lives in a cosy, unremarkable suburban home, but, remarkably, has lost a mother already. Or, rather, her chic, sharp mother has disappeared. So, Louise, lonely and steeped in complicated yearnings, decides to fall in love. Furiously. First, she falls in love with her magnificent new neighbour, the operatic and exotic Mrs Richter. Then, within the year, she falls for Mrs Richter's brilliant son Abel. Distracting him from his attentive study of everything around him -- the constellations, the moths, the music -- proves quite a struggle. But before long Abel finds he loves Louise 'too much'. A dozen years later, Abel is gone and Louise is devastated. This is the unravelling story of their romance...In The Romantic, Barbara Gowdy tracks and identifies all the species of love. Each of her characters is iridescent, but Louise Kirk, who flies to love again and again like a moth at a lamp, is a creature from whom no reader will easily tear their gaze.
BARBARA GOWDY lives in Toronto. She is the author of, among other books, Mister Sandman and The White Bone.
'Beyond good.' Elle'Heartbreaking and riveting' Red'Quite suddenly, Canada's female novelists are taking the literary world by storm. There was never any question about the extraordinary qualities of Carol Shields and Margaret Atwood, but now Barbara Gowdy has clearly joined them and her sixth novel underlines how she has matured. A story of abandonment and alcoholism, told with insight and warmth in the most exquisite prose, Gowdy's new novel quietly casts a distinct spell. By the time it is over, you desperately want to start again. It is that good.' Daily Mail'Barbara Gowdy's speciality is dysfunctional families. That might not sound too promising, given that unhappy families, contrary to Tolstoy's oft-quoted assertion, are all alike, but this Canadian writer is gifted with a deliciously black wit, and an ear for the quirks and tics of the unconventional. Having encompassed not only Siamese twins, transsexuals, necrophiliacs and elephants in her previous novels, she seems to be on more traditional ground in The Romantic, an examination of the mysteries of love between two damaged children ... Gowdy's compassion lights up even her most minor characters ... talented, witty and thoughtful.' Amanda Craig, New Statesman, Book of the Week'Her best yet... The sharpness of the prose remains, the ear for dialogue, the sense of character, as well as Gowdy's ability to create the occasional scene matchless for its pathos. Louise herself is a magnificent character.' Toronto Star'Gowdy has a remarkable ability to capture daily life through brief, emblematic descriptions that are never cliched, frequently funny and alarmingly precise... A masterful accomplishment.' Toronto Globe & Mail'Immediately, you feel in the company of a character and intelligence to learn from... What is remarkable and what is so cleansing about Gowdy's best work (and The Romantic belongs there) is the clarity of its storytelling.' Noah Richler, National Post'Barbara Gowdy is beginning to claim a place alongside those other major Canadian writers, Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields and Alice Munro... she is always absorbing.' TLS