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The Love Child (Virago Modern Classics) (original 1927; edition 1981)

by Edith Olivier

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712168,809 (4.06)40
Member:aluvalibri
Title:The Love Child (Virago Modern Classics)
Authors:Edith Olivier
Info:Virago Press Ltd (1981), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 216 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fiction, 20th century, women, Britain, Virago, VMC

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The love-child by Edith Olivier (1927)

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The Love-Child by Edith Olivier; (VMC #46); (5*)

Agatha Bodenham is a 32 year old spinster who has lived all of her years with her mother. During her childhood she was a lonely little girl and had, as many children do, an imaginary friend or playmate whom she called Clarissa. Her mother and the servants would often hear her playing in the garden, calling out to and laughing with her 'playmate, running to and fro.

When Agatha's mother died she became very bereft and led a solitary existence for some time. Not being a very social person she was unable to think of what to do to keep from feeling so terribly alone and lonely. Suddenly her childhood friend, Clarissa, came to mind. Agatha wondered if she tried hard enough, would the child return to her.

So she would spend her days and evenings speaking to the imaginary Clarissa and suddenly found with her the substance of her playmate and companion of her long ago. At first the child would come to Agatha only at night but as time went on she began comeing in the daytime as well. The servants were surprised to see Miss Agatha running through the plants and shrubbery of the garden laughing gaily and seemingly very happy. Soon the child developed enough substance, through the love of Agatha, that others were able to see her as well. Agatha explained Clarissa as her 'love-child' in order that things may remain the same. She was very happy as she and Clarissa focused all of their time, love and attention on one another.

As Clarissa grew up she becomes interested in young friends, playing tennis, dancing, learning to drive a motor vehicle and when she became interested in a male companion Agatha frooze emotionally. She feared that when Clarissa's emotional focus was removed from herself and placed elsewhere that she would fade away again.

This little tale has just the right element of the fantasy and gothic ghost story to it. The theme of loneliness which runs throughout the book are perfectly fitting to the story. The prose is gentle, sensitive and melancholy. The story shows the pain of the lonely person who has no one on whom to pour out their love.

I found The Love-Child to be a perfectly lovely story and would love to find more of the same to read. It fact I was quite charmed by it.
I gave it five stars and highly recommend it to any reader who craves or enjoys a bit of the whimsey. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Aug 2, 2014 |
As The Love-Child opens, we see Agatha, a 32 year old spinster, burying her mother. Her life that always was empty and bereft of companionship is now even more so. To console herself, Agatha raises from the dead of her childhood her imaginary friend, Clarissa. All is well and good with Agatha's make-believe world that she shares with Clarissa until something goes terribly wrong--other people start to be able to see Clarissa too.

This is a confounding situation for Agatha indeed, and one which she handles with aplomb. The girl who was once her imaginary friend is now, scandalously, introduced to the world as her love child. Like other children, Clarissa grows up, and much to Agatha's satisfaction. Agatha's fantasy sours, however, when a young man falls in love with her. Here is where the book really displays its brilliance because it is forced to answer a difficult question--whose fantasy shall Clarissa ultimately be, Agatha's or her suitor's?

The issue of fantasy ownership within the novel is not to be underestimated given this novel's short length and pithy prose. It very delicately balances notions of incest, lesbianism, feminism, and heterosexual prerogative with surprising results.

A highly recommended read. ( )
5 vote mambo_taxi | Nov 4, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edith Olivierprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cecil, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, HermioneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Agatha Bodenham had unconsciously moved a pace or two from the others, and she stood, isolated, near the head of her mother's grave while the clergyman finished the service.
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At thirty-two, her mother dead, Agatha Bodenham finds herself quite alone. She summons back to life the only friend she ever knew, Clarissa, the dream companion of her childhood. At first Clarissa comes by night, and then by day, gathering substance in the warmth of Agatha's obsessive love until it seems that others too can see her. See, but not touch, for Agatha has made her love child for herself alone. No man may approach her elfin creation of perfect beauty. If he does, the love which summoned her can spirit her away...
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