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"West has been for several decades one of the most consistently brilliant lyrical writers in America."―Frederick Busch, The Chicago TribuneIt is the early part of the century. Two childhood sweethearts are growing up in provincial England, with dreams of making a life together despite the boy's low standing and the girl being of the haute bourgeoisie. In an act of youthful desperation, the boy, Harry, decides to overcome his origins by becoming a hero in the Great War. But he comes home not a hero, but blinded. How can he embrace his virginal, serious minded Hilly are enjoying the delectable ravishments of his lascivious nurse, Sister Binche? How does this couple survive the grave disillusionments of life and love?
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A new angle on an old subject from West (The Women of Whitechapel and Jack the Ripper, 1991, etc.), who here makes the familiar horrors of WW I the heart of a son's story of beloved parents. Clive, now in his early 50s, is engaged not merely in an exercise of filial piety but also in an attempt to understand--by remembering, reconstructing, and imagining--just what it must have been like to be Hilly and Harry. Harry, the son of a coal miner, met Hilly, four years older and known to be musical, at a bell- ringing recital in their English Midlands town. Soon a regular visitor at the Fitzalans--a notch up the social ladder, thanks to Hilly's prosperous butcher father--Harry would listen to Hilly, an accomplished pianist, practice and then return to his own loving but poor family. But Harry, sensitive and ambitious, received two blows that irrevocably changed his life: his family's inability to pay for high school, and his wartime experiences. Horrified by the carnage and the snobbery of the officers, he became a detached killing machine himself, maintaining his sanity only by listening to records. Then, blinded by a shell, he was nursed by a quirky angel of mercy who sexually initiated him, which later made marriage to the virginal and mystical Hilly a disappointment, at least sexually. He regained sight in one eye, but it was the ``Promethean-Victorian'' Hilly who really supported the family by teaching music. Harry obsessively relived the war but was a spent force, his only consolations gambling and music. Clive eventually understands that ``his parents had come into the world to use life a lot, in spite of vicissitudes and injuries, until they had had enough, and cried bravely aloud for a full stop.'' An affecting and pleasingly unsentimental tribute, though the story is often bogged down in repetitive detail and by West's need to flash his haute-literary credentials. A pity, too, because much here is very good. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
After a slow start and an initial lack of drama, this novel--cast as a family memoir--gains momentum and appeal. West ( The Women of Whitechapel ; Lord Byron's Doctor ) re-creates his parents' lives through the fictional device of their shadowy son Clive Moxon, who with guilty compulsiveness peers into the "skewed kaleidoscope" of the past to spy on his parents, Hereward and Hildred, aka Harry and Hilly, and imagine their secret lives. Growing up in the sleepy English village of Exington, Harry, a coal miner's son, is mystically entranced by Hilly, a gifted pianist and daughter of a well-to-do butcher. World War I, which Harry joins at 16 (Hilly is 20) is the novel's turning point. The boy soldier's combat duty, his painful blinding by shrapnel (he regains his sight in one eye), his sexual ravishing in the hospital by an exquisitely wanton nurse whom he cannot see: in Clive's creative retrospect, these prove to be the peak experiences of Harry's life. From there he descends to a humdrum, hidebound existence: a repressed marriage to the prim Hilly, the birth of their children, his nostalgic reliving of the hell of war through tales he tells to Clive. All these are handled with consummate sensitivity. West packs his hard-breathing prose with dense detail; his rich and rolling style can fatigue but at its best it invigorates.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY, 1993. Trade Paperback. Condition: New. Clean and tight - unused copy - BRAND NEW!!. Seller Inventory # 003835
Book Description WW Norton Publishers. Condition: New. Brand New. Seller Inventory # 0879515031
Book Description The Overlook Press. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0879515031 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Seller Inventory # SWATI2132377910
Book Description The Overlook Press. Condition: New. Paperback. Worldwide shipping. FREE fast shipping inside USA (express 2-3 day delivery also available). Tracking service included. Ships from United States of America. Seller Inventory # 0879515031
Book Description OVERLOOK PR, 1993. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. It is the early part of this century. Two childhood sweethearts are growing up in provincial England, with dreams of making a life together despite the boy s low standing and the girl being of the haute bourgeoisie. In an act of youthful desperation, the boy, Harry, decides to overcome his origins by becoming a hero in the Great War. What happens when he comes home not a hero, but blinded? How can he embrace his virginal, serious-minded Hilly after enjoying the delectable ravishments of his lascivious nurse, Sister Binche? Will Harry ever stop giving passionate lectures on military protocol to his son, Clive? How, in short, does this crippled yet committed couple survive the grave disillusionments of life and love? Clive narrates his parents lives, taking us behind the curtain of Georgian propriety, conjuring up the pathos of youthful romance, the humor and insularity of small-town life, and the terrible price of war. Love s Mansion s classical themes of love, death, and village life recall the great nineteenth-century novels, and the battle scenes rival those of Tolstoy. West, one of our greatest living prose stylists, is in top form - at his most stunning and controlled. His ingenious use of language, his subtle understanding of human nature, and his vivid evocations of a both zany and tragic world have never been so masterful. Here is an exquisite portrait of timeless humanity limned with the daring strokes of a literary pioneer. Love s Mansion is the personal novel West fans have been waiting for. An ode to the author s parents, who were the models for Hilly and Harry, it has the warmth and wisdom of a classic. Here is an intimate novel that few will be able to resist. Seller Inventory # BTE9780879515034
Book Description Overlook Pr, 1993. Paperback. Condition: Brand New. reprint edition. 348 pages. 8.00x5.25x1.00 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # 0879515031
Book Description 1993. Paperback. Condition: New. Paperback. It is the early part of this century. Two childhood sweethearts are growing up in provincial England, with dreams of making a life together despite the boy's low standin.Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 348 pages. 0.390. Seller Inventory # 9780879515034