One From the Archive: ‘Love’ by Elizabeth von Arnim ****

First published in April 2014.

Love is the 297th book on the Virago Modern Classics list, and it was written by one of my favourite Virago authors.  I thought that it would be the perfect choice of novel to read on a very sunny Sunday in early March, which I spent almost entirely in the garden.  I must admit that I didn’t read Terence de Vere White’s introduction in the Virago volume pictured – even though I am sure that it would have been most insightful – because I find a lot of introductions actually give away far more of the plot than they really should. 

As seems rather obvious from the novel’s title, von Arnim presents a relationship of love, from its earliest beginnings.  Her protagonists meet at a mutually adored play in London – the rather enigmatic Catherine Cumfrit, the mother of a grown-up daughter, and Christopher Monckton, who is far younger than she.  The book’s blurb describes the way in which, ‘Beneath the humour of this engaging novel, originally published in 1925, lies a sharper note, as Elizabeth von Arnim uncovers the hypocrisy of society and the codes it forces women to ascribe to in the name of love’.

As can be said for all of von Arnim’s work, Love is beautifully written.  It is interesting that she has chosen that Christopher succumbs to being in love far before Catherine does, and the way in which she consequently presents gender and need is fascinating.  The story which von Arnim has crafted is eminently believable.  Love is a darling book, which is just the thing for langorous springtime reading.

Purchase from The Book Depository

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