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The Little Ottleys by Ada Leverson

The Little Ottleys (1962)

by Ada Leverson

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Oscar Wilde was a very great friend of Ada Leverson, went to all her parties and promoted her as the wittiest woman in London and the best writer in England. Presumably he did this out of friendship, because its hard to see what there is in the Little Ottleys that would lead anyone to think there was any real merit in this book.

Like Wilde and, later, Noel Coward, Leverson was all about slyly-observed little comedies of the peccadillos of the upper middle classes. With a good writer this sort of subject can be very witty - the Importance of Being Earnest for example - but in the hands of a hack, like Leverson, its just plain silly and uninteresting. There is no depth to the characters so that the reader really doesn't care who is having an affair with whom if you don't care, then the book is a total time waster.

I can imagine this might have been successful as a women's magazine story serialized over half a dozen issues. Or perhaps, spiced up and with a sexified cover (can you have rock-star long hair and rippling muscles on a suit that works in the city a la Harlequin romances?)

It wasn't an awful book, a bit depressing maybe, but mainly it was too insubstantial and for me at least, its only plus point was the beautifully-designed cover. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
Ada Leverson is chiefly known as Oscar Wilde's dear Sphinx, and that's sad because she is one hell of a writer. "The Little Ottleys" is actually a collection of three novels, "Love's Shadow," "Tenterhooks," and "Love at Second Sight," connected by the A-story detailing the marriage of the charming Edith Ottley and her horrid husband Bruce, with interesting B-stories about Edith's friends and nemeses.

Read the rest at http://thegrimreader.blogspot.com/2012/09/i-am-going-through-books-like-hophead.... ( )
  nohrt4me2 | Sep 11, 2012 |
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'There's only one thing I must really implore you, Edith,' said Bruce anxiously. 'Don't make me late at the office!'
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The heroine of the three novels collected here--Love's Shadow, Tenterhooks, and Love at Second Sight--is the delightful Edith Ottley. As we follow Edith's fortunes we enter the enchanting world of Edwardian London. We will be bewitched by the courtships, jealousies, and love affairs of Edith's coterie--and indeed of Edith herself--and unfailingly amused by her husband, Bruce, one of the most tremendous--if attractive--bores in literature.

Ada Leverson, born in England in 1862, was the devoted friend of Oscar Wilde, who called her the wittiest woman in the world. She wrote six novels, each a classic comedy of manners. These three, originally published between 1908 and 1916, are perfect examples of her wit and style: no other Edwardian novelist has explored the world of marriage and married life with such feeling for its mysteries and absurdities.
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