Love's Mansion

Overview

It is the early part of this 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. What happens when he comes home not a hero, but blinded? How can he embrace his virginal, serious-minded Hilly after enjoying the delectable ravishments of his lascivious nurse, ...
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1993 Trade paperback New. No dust jacket as issued. Clean and tight-unused copy-Excellent! ! Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 348 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

It is the early part of this 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. What happens when he comes home not a hero, but blinded? How can he embrace his virginal, serious-minded Hilly after enjoying the delectable ravishments of his lascivious nurse, Sister Binche? Will Harry ever stop giving passionate lectures on military protocol to his son, Clive? How, in short, does this crippled yet committed couple survive the grave disillusionments of life and love? Clive narrates his parents' lives, taking us behind the curtain of Georgian propriety, conjuring up the pathos of youthful romance, the humor and insularity of small-town life, and the terrible price of war. Love's Mansion's classical themes of love, death, and village life recall the great nineteenth-century novels, and the battle scenes rival those of Tolstoy. West, one of our greatest living prose stylists, is in top form - at his most stunning and controlled. His ingenious use of language, his subtle understanding of human nature, and his vivid evocations of a both zany and tragic world have never been so masterful. Here is an exquisite portrait of timeless humanity limned with the daring strokes of a literary pioneer. Love's Mansion 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, it has the warmth and wisdom of a classic. Here is an intimate novel that few will be able to resist.
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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879515034
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.97 (d)

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