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Review: The Constant Nymph, by Margaret Kennedy


Pages: 326
Original date of publication: 1924
My edition: 1984 (Virago Modern Classics)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Philly bookshop, August 2011

The Constant Nymph is one of those coming of age stories. This story is that of Tessa Sanger, the daughter of an unusual bohemian composer who lives in a chalet in the Austrian Alps with his ragtag group of children. Albert Sanger has a habit of randomly inviting other artists to the chalet, and the story opens when Lewis Dodd, a composer, arrives at the chalet.

Well, I didn’t really like this novel very much, which was disappointing considering I liked some of Margaret Kennedy’s other novels (Together and Apart was fantastic, for example). Although I like unusual characters, Tessa was far too “out there” for me to really understand or like her as a character, nor could I really understand the connection between her and Lewis or why the author tried to present it in such a mature light—even though Tessa was only a teenager and Lewis in his 30s. So I kept seeing it as more of a teenage infatuation rather than some great love. It doesn’t seem realistic to me.

There were a lot of other stereotypes that seem dated to me. Far and away the best character was Albert Sanger, but I couldn’t really bring myself to like any of the characters or plot enough to continue reading, so I bailed a little after 100 pages. But maybe I should try reading it again when I’m more in a mood to do so.

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