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Gowdy's heroine, Louise Kirk, falls hopelessly in love with her childhood playmate Abel Richter, after--and maybe because of--her mother's sudden decampment from the family when Louise is just nine. On the outskirts of Toronto in the early '60s, Louise and Abel roam a hidden ravine together, examining plants and animals and eventually each other with an odd mixture of lust and idealism. Abel, an adopted boy living with German immigrant parents, suffers the same outsider status Louise feels, and he should be the perfect companion for her, except for his singular notion that one's destiny in life can best be achieved in "complete isolation," which locks her out and drives her mad. He loves her, but in much the same way as he loves the stars and Bach and a wounded baby bat. When she finds herself pregnant, Louise behaves very badly and perhaps sets Abel on the self-destructive path that will end in his early death.
The deliberate flatness of Gowdy's style plays against the subject matter of thwarted passion, usually to good effect, although on occasion it becomes too flat to sustain the reader's interest. But then she will drop in striking metaphors that pull you back. Near the end of his life, when Louise is finally managing to get her feelings of unrequited love under control, she says, "I imagine holding my hand a few inches above a boulder. It's twilight, summer, growing cool. The boulder gives off the heat of the day. My love for Abel is like the heat between the boulder and the falling night. That feeling, or that place." Lovely. --Bronwyn Drainie --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A splendid book that touches the heart and soul. Barbara Gowdy is a genius when it comes to working her literary magic.Published 17 months ago by Donna Kay Cindy Kakonge
On the contrary to the novel's title, the Romantic isn't your typical happily ever after romance as it tells the tragic love story of Louise and Abel. Read morePublished on June 4 2007 by Jian Zhao
This novel was so beautifully written and so hauntingly real that I have had to read it several times over the past few years. Read morePublished on June 15 2006 by Brown Sugar