Saturday, 2 May 2009

Love Falls

I want to go to Tuscany and swim, eat, bask in the sun with a good book ... if you are going (but read it, if you are not) then I would recommend packing for the journey Love Falls by Esther Freud (great-granddaughter of Sigmund, daughter of Lucian, niece of Sir Clement). The lushness of the landscape is vividly rendered; the oppressive heat is captured and the relief and freedom provided by the cool pool when Lara -the main, and teenage, protagonist- swims, and of the Love falls (a waterfall).

Reading this book, set in Italy's summer (July of 1981, preceding, during and following the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana) in the same month as reading The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim, evoked the beauty of the setting - of Tuscany, of Florence (where Lara visits for a couple of days) and the Palio di Siena - more thoroughly for me. Von Arnim depicted Springtime Italy wonderfully, so much so that I could imagine the scent of wisteria in the air and sense the onset of Spring here, and Freud manages to render heat, oppression and even the violence of both, of the horse race and of the sexual elements of the novel. My mouth also salivated at the description of the food Ginny, for the most part, makes; the depth and colour of Freud's description is intense.

A bildungsroman, Love Falls, is in essence an exploration of first love and/or holiday romance, but that is simplifying the plot. To tell you more would be to spoil the book but it delves into the themes of maturity, relationships, and loss, as well as love and sexual experience. The romantic setting lends itself to the rendering of these themes and raw emotion. The novel is exceedingly atmospheric and the sub-plot of the passionate and dangerous Palio di Siena intelligently contrasts with Lara's dealings with the fiery and incestuous Willoughby family. I devoured this drama over one day and bask it the shadow it casts.

Now I want to read Hideous Kinky (which came as a free copy with Marie Claire many years ago, but has collected dust, unread), has anybody read it? As further incentive it is also one of the Guardian's 1000 books.


Elisabeth Ingram said...

I love E Freud! I have read everything she has written, but not her latest - it is now a must read. Going on my list. Hideous Kinky is fabulous. I also got that free copy from a mag years ago, I still have it, much read - I bet you will love it.

She is a really good writer.


Paperback Reader said...

I hope you enjoy Love Falls!
I plan to read Hideous Kinky soon.