Thursday, 19 May 2011

Liana (Gellhorn)

The method of choosing the next VMC by which one comes out of the box of TBR first seems to be working (we are in the midst of moving house and everything is packed, but it a fairly organised fashion so I can sort of find things if not choose things), as I really enjoyed reading Liana by Martha Gellhorn, a book which is wonderfully reflected by the wistful looking girl on the cover of the Virago edition.

Liana, a young mixed-race girl is taken as a mistress and then married, by Marc, a wealthy Frenchman on a French Carribean island in 1940 (we are told that the island is cut off from the world by the war, but this doesn't seem particularly important). Marc renames her "Julie" and tries to make her into an appropriate wife, getting her to speak French, and finding a teacher so that she can learn to read a book. In some ways Marc seems very benevolent, but the more one learns about him, the more unpleasantly he comes across - the marriage comes with a contract that Liana's family can't visit her, he retains another mistress who he spends at least 3 evenings with a week. Liana's teacher Pierre provides a welcome escape, taking her on picnics and spending time with her for who she is.

It was really quite a different read to Gellhorn's other VMC, A stricken field. Of the two, I enjoyed, and would be more likely to recommend this one.

This has been published just once by Virago with an original green cover.

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