A tale of solitude and the power of the mind.
The Love Child is a story where delusion and reality mingle, and the deepest desires become a reality.
The book is part of the stunning British Library Women Writers series. Each book includes a contextual timeline and a comprehensive afterword, all wrapped up in beautifully embossed covers.
Our thanks to British Library Publishing for the advanced reader’s copy.
Print Length: 208 pages
Publisher: British Library Publishing (24 Sep 2021)
The Love Child is part of a curated collection of forgotten works by early to mid-century women writers, featuring the best middlebrow fiction from the 1910s to the 1960s, which offer escapism, popular appeal and plenty of period detail to amuse, surprise and inform.
She had saved her. But at what a cost! Her position, her name, her character – she had given them all, but Clarissa was hers.
Upon the death of her mother, Agatha Bodenham finds herself alone for the first time in her life. Solitary and socially awkward by nature, she starts to dream about her imaginary childhood friend – the only friend she ever had. Much to her surprise, Clarissa starts to appear, fleetingly at first, and engage with her, and eventually becomes visible to everyone else. Agatha, a 32-year- old spinster, must explain the child’s ‘sudden’ appearance. In a moment of panic, she pretends that Clarissa is her own daughter, her love child.
Olivier constructs a mother/daughter relationship which is both poignant and playful. As the years roll by and Clarissa grows into a beautiful young woman, Agatha’s love becomes increasingly obsessive as she senses Clarissa slipping away, attracted by new interests and people her own age.
From the Publisher’s Blurb
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Agnes, a 31yo spinster, was totally alone after the passing of her cold and emotionally distant mother.
Feeling lonely and unfulfilled, Agnes searched for memories of her childhood imaginary friend Clarissa and started to interact with her.
Clarissa firstly materialized only to Agnes, but with time, she became visible to everyone in the household. Finally, forced to justify Clarissa’s presence, Agnes claimed her as a love child.
It was painful to witness how even Clarissa, the fruit of Agnes’ own imagination, preferred the companionship of the young neighbors once she grew up.
The story seems so real despite the blatant surrealism of Clarissa’s existence. I dare say I have met a parent or two even more needy and domineering than Agnes (lol).
I enjoyed the paranormal element even more after reading the included excerpt of the author’s autobiography and her firm belief in “things past explaining.”
I thought that the author’s excursion to Avebury was a tale that deserved a book of its own. How delightful! True or not, I was entranced by her recounting of the experience.
The Love Child is a tad different from the other stories I read in the series so far but no less entrancing.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Edith Maud Olivier MBE was an English writer, also noted for acting as hostess to a circle of well-known writers, artists, and composers in her native Wiltshire.