The third book in this picture of Cornwall charity shop finds and, as you’ll see from my TBR post tomorrow, I’m galloping through the shelf and haven’t really acquired much recently (apart from e-books, but they Don’t Count, right?). I’ve got Mark Ellen’s autobiography lined up to read next week, too, and I think that will be almost the end of the Cornwall books and on to the London ones! I bought this one because it was one of those pretty Bloomsbury paperback reprints, but what a shame they only seem to have done a few, and one by each author, as I’d love to have all of the Little Ottleys series in this edition.

Ada Leverson – “Love’s Shadow”

(03 October 2016)

This is the first of the Little Ottleys trilogy (and for future reference I will record here that that is made up of Love’s Shadow (1908), Tenterhooks (1912) and Love at Second Sight (1916) incidentally, now I’m horribly tempted to include that last in my Century of Reading instead of Arnold Bennet’s “These Twain”, also the third in a trilogy, but somehow I’m imagining a meatier trilogy than this. We’ll see)).

The best word you can use of this novel is “sparkling”. Oscar Wilde called Ada Leverson “the wittiest woman in the world” and this novel, alternating between the humorously presented woes of beautiful orphan Hyancith Verney, with her stuffy but loving uncle/guardian and terrifyingly upholstered aunt and the more prosaic and tragi-comic ones of Edith and Bruce Ottley in their Very Small Flat in the days of the Edwardians.

It’s very much a comedy of manners, with plenty of uncles and aunts, hopeless and mixed up loves and brittle exchanges, although there is real drama and pathos as well, and some lovely characters, including Hyacinth’s weird companion, Anne, with her incongruous raincoats. It reminds me a little of Denis Mackail’s “Greenery Street” gone a bit awry and sour – although they’re not newlyweds, the Ottleys have a power struggle going on in their marriage that’s full of self-deceit and bluster on the part of the husband, but it errs towards the charming rather than upsetting. With the one-liners and observations, it’s also reminiscent of Oscar Wilde himself.

A very light read but a charming and good one. I have a six-novel set by this author on my Kindle which includes the rest of the trilogy and I think that will be going up to the top of the electronic pile!