Gowdy, Barbara The Romantic

ISBN 13: 9780007156283

The Romantic

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9780007156283: The Romantic

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.

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Review:

'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

From the Publisher:

‘The Romantic [is] Barbara Gowdy’s very tender portrait of the relationship between Abel and Louise, doomed by Abel’s ongoing affair with alcohol… Gowdy has always been an expert at getting inside the heads of people who don’t quite fit in. Here, the misfit is Louise, who has that exhilarating feeling of being rescued when she finds her soulmate, Abel. As children, they play in their ravine hideout in a loving exercise in creativity. But as teenagers, drugs and booze take over, and Louise unravels when she can’t break the pattern: he loves her, he loves to drink more, and when he drinks he fucks around. And she still loves him. Gowdy’s gift is in making us understand how this kind of thing can happen, how somebody can sustain a commitment to a person so obviously going into the crapper. We know Abel’s going to die. The question is, will Louise’s self-worth and whatever life ambitions she has left die with him?… As always, the detail is precise, the observations canny. I do miss the crazy humour of Gowdy’s earlier books. But there’s something else going on here – a gorgeously painful and wholly grown-up sense of longing. That’s just as important.’ Susan G. Cole

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