23 January 2012
Book Review: Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson
It has been so long since I posted an actual book review that I feel like I don't remember how to do it. Plus, I finished reading Love's Shadow twenty-two days ago...it's a good thing my "reviews" don't cleave to any particular format or quality standard. That way I can't go wrong. Right?
This is the first of the brightly colored Bloomsbury Group reissues that I can say that I loved. I quite liked Miss Hargreaves but had my reservations. I was confused and semi-annoyed by The Brontes Went to Woolworths. And I was a little bored with Henrietta's War. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up this hot pink volume. But I needn't have worried, Love's Shadow is a fantastically fun book and a good read.
According to the back of the book Oscar Wilde once called Ada Leverson "the wittiest woman in the world". I am not sure I would go that far, but Leverson certainly is witty and gives Wilde himself a run for his money when it comes to droll one-liners and word-play. The story is loosely centered on Edith and Bruce Ottley but almost as much attention is to devoted to others in, and adjacent to, their social circle. Civil servant Bruce and his unshakable faith in his own theatrical talent provided some of the funniest bits of the book. His decision to make loads of money writing a hit play despite having no discernible writing talent, prior experience, or plot ideas made me picture him as a sort of Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster kind of character.
Having finished this about three weeks ago, I certainly don't remember the details of the plot, but I am not sure it matters too much. The genius and fun of Love's Shadow is in the journey rather than the destination. In fact, now that I think about it, the other Bloomsbury Group books I mention above are similar. Perhaps if I had let myself enjoy the ride more, and surrendered to their slightly kooky premises, I might have found them more satisfying. That might be worth exploring in future re-reads. In any event, Love's Shadow was a perfect way to ring in the new year and make quick progress on my sixty-odd book TBR Dare pile for the first three months of 2012.