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The Art of Losing by Rebecca Connell

The Art of Losing (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Rebecca Connell

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592200,849 (4.06)7
Title:The Art of Losing
Authors:Rebecca Connell
Info:Europa Editions (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, contemporary, women, Britain

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The Art of Losing by Rebecca Connell (2009)



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. Connell's first novel, The Art of Losing, contains a dual narrative telling the story of an illicit affair and its long-term aftermath. Louise opens the novel by describing her arrival at Oxford, not as a university student, but as a young woman looking to discover the man whom she holds responsible for her mother's death. She insinuates herself into the man's life by attending the lectures he gives at the university and by seducing his son who is also a student. When Louise finally meets the man and his wife, she gives them her mother's name, Lydia, instead of her own attempting to gauge their attachment to her mother by their reaction.

The man, Nicholas, is the novel's second narrator. His narrative begins years earlier as he describes the rekindling of his affair with Louise's mother Lydia over a decade earlier. Nicholas and his wife Naomi meet Lydia and her husband Martin when they move to Oxford to begin careers at the university. Lydia and Nicholas both are aware of the risk they are taking each time they meet, but the passion they feel for each other leads to further meetings. What will happen when Lydia finally asks Nicholas to leave Naomi and marry her?

Louise discovers more information about her mother's affair with Nicholas after she manages to move in with the family for the winter holidays. Ms. Connell builds enough suspense through these twin narratives to give The Art of Losing a thriller element. Because Louise holds Nicholas responsible for her mother's death, there is a dramatic tension in the novel that rises over time as the reader can't help but wonder what she will do to Nicholas, his wife or his son once she has evidence against Nicholas. There is a matching sense of rising tension in Nicholas's narrative since we do not know the circumstances of Lydia's death nor how much was revealed to either Naomi or Martin.

Unfortunately, in the novels closing section, Ms. Connell relies on a dramatic reveal that I found a bit pedestrian, an attempt at a shocking revelation when a much more common one would have better done the job. I couldn't help but think what Iris Murdoch or Georges Simenon would have done with the same material and that maybe Ms. Connell is just young. Give her a few years and a few more books. The Art of Losing is a very promising first novel with a few shortcomings. I'll be interested in reading what Ms. Connell writes next. ( )
  CBJames | Jul 5, 2012 |
This book delves into how an affair can affect your life to the extent that you cannot continue to live without that person really makes you think how things can seem one way to one person in the relationship to the other...will make you question your own relationship!! ( )
  ilurvebooks | Dec 9, 2010 |
Showing 2 of 2
FIRST-TIME novelist Rebecca Connell has done a remarkable job of finding not one but two voices that are perfect for this sombre tale of infidelity.

The two strands of the novel merge as Louise inveigles her way into Nicholas' home. The ending of this entirely satisfying novel has a poignant twist.
added by justjim | editThe Age, Dianne Dempsey (Apr 15, 2009)
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For my parents, Nigel and Elaine,
and my husband, Daniel Cormack
thank you for all of your love and support so far.
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Until I was ten, my father told me a bedtime story every night.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Rebecca Connell’s debut novel is a brilliantly crafted mix of thriller and literary romance that examines the consequences of betrayal and the legacy of loss.

At the age of ten, Louise lost her mother in a tragic accident. More than a decade later she is convinced of the truth she glimpsed as a girl: her mother’s lover Nicholas, an Oxford professor, was responsible for her death. And so Louise becomes Lydia, hiding her true identity behind her dead mother’s name and setting out to confront Nicholas. At first she only watches him from the shadows, but a chance meeting with his son provides the pretext she needs to fully insinuate herself into the unsuspecting professor’s life.

Nicholas may not know who Lydia really is, but her name evokes memories of his harrowing and passionate affair all those years ago. His and Lydia’s intense and torturous romance changed the course of his life. Despite his success and his seemingly perfect family, memories of its awful conclusion haunt him still.

~~ From Europa Editions
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At the age of five, Louise lost her mother in a tragic accident. Now, eighteen years later she remains convinced of the truth she glimpsed as a girl: that her mother's lover Nicholas was responsible for her death. And so Louise becomes Lydia, hiding her identity behind her dead mother's name and setting out to confront Nicholas.… (more)

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