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Review: Love's Shadow, by Ada Leverson


Pages: 225

Original date of publication: 1908

My edition: 2010 (Bloomsbury Group)

Why I decided to read: it was offered through LTER

How I acquired my copy: blogger giveaway, May 2010

Love’s Shadow is a very short novel about a group of upper-class people living in Edwardian London. There are Bruce and Edith Ottley; Hyacinth Verney, a local debutante; Cecil Reeve, an eligible bachelor; Anne Yeo, Hyacinth’s companion, who imagines herself to be an elderly spinster (although she’s no more than thirty); and others.

The biggest problem I had with this novel is that there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot. The pace picks up at the end of the book, when a misunderstanding threatens Hyacinth and Cecil’s happiness; but the book is more a series of character studies than anything else. However, the characters aren’t very well fleshed out (with the exception of Bruce, who’s a fantastic bore and I can’t really understand why Edith stays with him).

The potential for the novel is there, it just doesn’t hinge together well. Hyacinth and Cecil’s marriage occurs halfway through the book, and so the rest of their relationship seems very anticlimactic to me. The concept of loving someone while still living in the shadow of that person’s love for someone else is interesting, but I just didn’t like the way that the book played out. The book is set in London, but really it could have taken place anywhere for all the description the author gives us. Overall, the book feels very dated (eg, the author’s use of the word “flapper” to describe various young women in this story; it probably didn’t mean the same thing at the time the book was written as it did in the 1920s). It’s disappointing because I wanted to like this book so much, but it didn’t live up to the expectations I had for it.

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