How do you love someone who sits, smiling, at the edge of oblivion? Award-winning Canadian writer Barbara Gowdy unravels a romance, and the idea of romance, in this spry, witty, agile novel full of all the species of love. Louise Kirk falls in love. She's 10, lives in a cosy, unremarkable suburban home, but, remarkably, has lost a mother already. Or, rather, her chic, sharp mother has disappeared. So, Louise, lonely and steeped in complicated yearnings, decides to fall in love. Furiously. First, she falls in love with her magnificent new neighbour, the operatic and exotic Mrs Richter. Then, within the year, she falls for Mrs Richter's brilliant son Abel. Distracting him from his attentive study of everything around him - the constellations, the moths, the music - proves quite a struggle. But before long Abel finds he loves Louise 'too much'. A dozen years later, Abel is gone and Louise is devastated. This is the unravelling story of their romance...In The Romantic, Barbara Gowdy tracks and identifies all the species of love. Each of her characters is iridescent, but Louise Kirk, who flies to love again and again like a moth at a lamp, is a creature from whom no reader will easily tear their gaze.
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BARBARA GOWDY lives in Toronto. She is the author of, among other books, Mister Sandman and The White Bone.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
From The Romantic:
I fall in love with Mrs. Richter immediately, Abel the following summer. I know how unlikely it sounds, a ten-year-old girl falling in love at all, let alone with a middle-age woman. But to say I become infatuated doesn’t describe the gravity and voluptuousness of my feelings. I trail after her to the grocery store and touch the grapefruits she has fondled. I gaze at her flannel nightgown billowing on the clothesline and am uplifted, as if by music. Under the pretext of welcoming her to the subdivision or asking if she gives piano lessons, asking if she heard about the white-elephant sale at church—any excuse—I write letters advertising my availability and qualifications as a daughter. “Lend a Helping Hand!” I write on the back of the envelopes, as if this were my motto. Down the margins I draw pictures of a girl doing the dishes, scrubbing the floor, dusting.
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