Shirley Abbott's new memoir charts her amorous education as a woman coming of emotional age in the second half of the twentieth century. Love's Apprentice will resonate with every woman who, despite her hard-earned knowledge of the limitations of love, will not be cured of it.
The preface to Love's Apprentice
introduces readers to Madeleine de Scudery, a notorious 18th-century femme fatale, and her carte de tendre
. De Scudery's carte
was a sketchy, hand-drawn map of love that took the salons of Louis XIII-era Paris by storm. Abbott's undertaking in this, her latest memoir, is to map her own romantic history both to sort it out for herself and in the hope that, "readers find their own stories here, some piece of the carte de tendre
." Abbott begins her romantic odyssey in a movie theater at the tender age of 6 when she falls in love with the cartoon character, Gulliver, and from that moment on attempts to re-create the ideals of the movie romance in her own life. She consistently fails, but is rarely dispirited. Upon every unsuccessful amorous adventure, she discovers new models--Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester, Chopin and George Sand, Tristan and Isolde, Bette Davis, Keats. These characters buoy her enthusiasm for love and life despite the universal disappointments of growing up. This is an intensely intimate memoir, but Abbott's connection to popular culture and classic literature invite a strong link with the reader.
Love's Apprentice is very different from Shirley Abbott's first two memoirs, Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South and The Bookmaker's Daughter, in which she focuses outward to the lives of others. This insight into Abbott's life promises to be a treat to those already familiar with her work and a delightful discovery for fans of rich, well-crafted memoirs.