Tuesday, 22 February 2011
One way of love (Gamel Woolsey) 239
Another titles from my Awesome Books loot that I had never come across before; I don't think I've ever seen this title mentioned before. And again, how wonderful to discover a book that I really enjoyed reading that I would not have found had it not been for this project.
The book centres around the somewhat naieve character of Mariana Clare. Brought up on a childhood diet of fairy tales, she is convinced that eternal love exists and is desperate to find it. Finding herself in New York, alone, aged 21, she meets a set of artist friends. Several try to encourage her into bed, but believing in the importance of love, she refuses. A man named Alan spends considerable time wooing her, and eventually succeeds in persuading her to let him make love to her, but it is a while before she actually feels anything for him. Despite this, they marry, but it seems that Alan is primarily interested in the idea of being in love with her, and in making love and isn't actually in love with her. The slightly doomed partnership seems further doomed when they head to London to try to build a life there, although several months in Looe in Cornwall (this pleased me especially as I love to see Cornwall referred to in books) helps, but they do eventually part.
As the blurb on the back of the book says, when this happens she "is still left with "a curious fear that if she were not to find a lover she would be lonely in another world as well as this". I loved the way that the book gave such great insight into the thoughts of Mariana: who hasn't longed for love that will last forever and ever.
Apparently, although it was supposed to be published in 1932, it was withdrawn after The well of loneliness was taken to court for sexual explicitness. Although One way of love is sexually explicit at points in the story, I did not find it in bad taste as can sometimes be the case. It was eventually published in 1987, having been rescued by Virago from the British Museum which held a copy of the proof.
It's just been published once by Virago, with an original green cover, and I would say that it is definitely an underrated one. (The author was primarily a poet and this was her first novel, and you can read a fuller account of her life here)