Original date of publication: 1951
My edition: 1997 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: I’m trying to read all of Molly Keane’s novels
How I acquired my copy: Ebay seller, August 2010
I became a Molly Keane fan after reading The Rising Tide and Taking Chances. I’m starting to notice some trends in Molly Keane’s novels: a domineering family matriarch, an old family house in Ireland. Loving Without Tears has both, but the house in this book isn’t important. Covering the space of a single day, and an epilogue three weeks later, this book tells the story of Angel, a woman who clings tightly to her grown children, watching in despair as they fall in love and intend to marry.
Loving Without Tears is sadly not my favorite of the Molly Keane books I’ve read. Set in the years after WWII, there’s still this wonderful dreamlike quality to it (for some reason, I kept thinking of the setting of the musical Mamma Mia as I read!). The focus of this novel is on the relationship between Angel and Julian and Slaney; and I found myself almost detesting Angel for nearly smothering her children. But in some ways you feel sorry for her; if her children leave, she really doesn’t have much to live for. There are some clichéd characters in this novel, namely the vampy American that Julian intends to marry and the caustic land agent, but some of the others are very well portrayed. On the other hand, I was a bit exasperated at Chris and Tiddley, two characters who basically allow themselves to be used as doormats.
As I read this book, I kept having the feeling that I was just floating along; unfortunately, I didn’t find myself caring much for any of the characters or their motivations. Because the action is set during the course of a single day, the author has a lot to get in, and I found myself believing that all of this would take place in such a short period of time. But Molly Keane is skilled at describing things; and since this book is set during the month of June, it was the perfect antidote to the December days I read this book in. I wasn’t fully enamored of this novel, but I’m still a Molly Keane fan and have several of her other books on my shelf.