First published in 1957, the late Madeleine L’Engle’s tale of regret and illicit love follows Emily Bowen, her husband Court, their children, and Emily’s paramour Abe as they vacation in the Swiss Alps following WWII. Court, recently laid off from his academic post, turns what was to be a sabbatical into an escape until he chooses to accept a lesser post in Indiana or decides to make a go of it as a writer. Despondent and prickly, Court rejects Emily’s repeated attempts to help in any way she can. The largely ignored wife then turns to more understanding arms, that of Abe, an old friend from New York.
What is most interesting to see is how prose has changed over the past 60-some years, comparing what those in the late 20th century wrote and read compared to today’s literature. This narrative is carried primarily through dialogue, which can be jarring to modern readers. We get glimpses of the characters inner most thoughts mostly through their words and that is different than the more action-driven narratives we see these days. Still, the emotional themes persist, and L’Engle throws in a few twists with religion, anti-Semitism, and adultery. The effect is subtle and much more nuanced, I think, than many of those same themes today. It leaves the moral dilemmas up to the reader in a way that is as novel these days as it is satisfying.
Special thanks to NetGalley for the chance to review.
Amazon link is here.