Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Palestine Day

The Mercury asked me to write a few words about my favourite love stories. An edited version of the below was published in last weekend's TasWeekends -

I’m far from a capital R Romantic and generally don’t enjoy predictable love stories, though I’m not immune to having my breath taken away and the momentous madness of falling in love.
Lydia Davis’ forensic analysis of a relationship that has ended, The End of the Story, told in the first person is one of the best ‘love’ stories going around. The narrator, who had fallen in love with a younger man, and he with her, begins to recount the relationship years after it has finished. We, the reader are carefully carried through all stages; the pursuit, the delight of new love, the nascent doubt, the collapse. She tells it with a sharp, perspicacious honesty in which the narrator questions her own and other’s point of view in the re-telling.
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier initially grabbed me as it was the story of pirates, and of Cornwall, a place which I have actually fallen in love with from a-far. The cover would have us believe that this is a trashy romance “beautiful Lady Dona…excitement….danger…passion” and it more or less is – though the one beautifully un-predictable part of this novel is its happy ending. I’ll reveal all! She sails off with her pirate lover. Woah! It still takes my breath away.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos is a gorgeous, slow burn of a novel that is also a love song for Cuba and its music.. It’s the story of two musician brothers, Oscar and Nestor Castillo, who leave Cuba for New York in the fifties. It is told through Oscar’s eyes, who often talks of the lovesong that Nestor spends much of his life re-writing, the story of his lost love Maria, the woman he left behind, the woman who, in his memory, remains as passionately in love with him, as beautiful, and as young as he was when he left her behind Cuba, so many years before. La Bella Maria de mi Alma, ‘Beautiful Maria of my soul.’ I am so glad she remains beautiful in his soul, because real life brings such a different story.


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