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Love's Mansion
     

Love's Mansion

by Paul West
 

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"West has been for several decades one of the most consistently brilliant lyrical writers in America."—Frederick Busch, The Chicago Tribune
It is the early part of the century. Two childhood sweethearts are growing up in provincial England, with dreams of making a life together despite the boy's low standing and the girl being of the haute bourgeoisie. In

Overview

"West has been for several decades one of the most consistently brilliant lyrical writers in America."—Frederick Busch, The Chicago Tribune
It is the early part of the century. Two childhood sweethearts are growing up in provincial England, with dreams of making a life together despite the boy's low standing and the girl being of the haute bourgeoisie. In an act of youthful desperation, the boy, Harry, decides to overcome his origins by becoming a hero in the Great War. But he comes home not a hero, but blinded. How can he embrace his virginal, serious minded Hilly are enjoying the delectable ravishments of his lascivious nurse, Sister Binche? How does this couple survive the grave disillusionments of life and love?
This is the personal novel West fans have been waiting for. An ode to the author's parents, who were the models for Hilly and Harry, Love's Mansion pulls back the cover's on West's beginnings as a son and as a writer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After a slow start and an initial lack of drama, this novel--cast as a family memoir--gains momentum and appeal. West ( The Women of Whitechapel ; Lord Byron's Doctor ) re-creates his parents' lives through the fictional device of their shadowy son Clive Moxon, who with guilty compulsiveness peers into the ``skewed kaleidoscope'' of the past to spy on his parents, Hereward and Hildred, aka Harry and Hilly, and imagine their secret lives. Growing up in the sleepy English village of Exington, Harry, a coal miner's son, is mystically entranced by Hilly, a gifted pianist and daughter of a well-to-do butcher. World War I, which Harry joins at 16 (Hilly is 20) is the novel's turning point. The boy soldier's combat duty, his painful blinding by shrapnel (he regains his sight in one eye), his sexual ravishing in the hospital by an exquisitely wanton nurse whom he cannot see: in Clive's creative retrospect, these prove to be the peak experiences of Harry's life. From there he descends to a humdrum, hidebound existence: a repressed marriage to the prim Hilly, the birth of their children, his nostalgic reliving of the hell of war through tales he tells to Clive. All these are handled with consummate sensitivity. West packs his hard-breathing prose with dense detail; his rich and rolling style can fatigue but at its best it invigorates. (Sept.)
Library Journal
One expects something unusual in a West novel ( The Women of Whitechapel & Jack the Ripper , LJ 3/1/91; Lord Byron's Doctor , LJ 9/1/89), and Love's Mansion is no exception. Set in England, the story moves from the late Victorian era to mid-century, telling the story of two lovers, Harry and Hilly, whose lives are irrevocably changed by World War I. Tantalizingly, the novel is told from the viewpoint of the couple's son, who must look back in time, guessing at motives, imagining dialog, intuiting emotions. Clive is obsessed with understanding the relationship between his parents, even though he realizes that the truth is ultimately unknowable. West is an exuberant user of language, building his characters from an intricate mosaic of emotions, thoughts, and description. His emphasis on ideas--for example, a discussion of the nature of music runs through the book--makes this a title for readers who like a challenge. Buy if you have an active ``critic's choice'' section.-- Beth Ann Mills, New Rochelle P.L., N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780879515034
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
09/28/1993
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
348
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.10(d)

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