Thursday, June 18, 2015
The little Ottleys, by Ada Leverson
Book image courtesy of Goodreads.com
Read and reviewed in September, 2009. Released later.
The following review may contain spoilers. Be warned.
This is a collection of three short novels about one London family from the beginning of the 20th century until sometime after the start of the Great War (WW I as we now know it).
Bruce and Edith Ottley were once in love with each other, but Bruce has a roving eye and an extremely critical and demanding nature. Edith puts up with this graciously and with a sly humor (Bruce has no sense of humor.) … until she meets Aylmer, a charming and considerate, handsome widower.
She is very attracted to him, and he has fallen for her, and begs her to go away with him. She refuses, her sense of moral and social standards keep her faithful to her husband and children. Even when Bruce's affairs become more and more flagrant, even to the point where he actually leaves her and sails to Australia with a young woman, Edith continues to remain at home. She even offers Bruce a graceful return home when the inevitable happens (a fall-out between Bruce and his paramour). Aylmer is disgusted, and leaves, unwilling to live a double life, and deceive his friend while clandestinely having an affair with his wife.
Years pass, and war breaks out. Aylmer volunteers for duty, even though he is too old (he lies about his age, as does his son, who is too young.) He is wounded, and returns home an invalid. Edith goes to visit him, and in time their old passion for each other is resurrected. This time, Edith is ready and willing to leave her husband, and makes plans to do so when Aylmer returns home from a second tour of duty after his convalescence. Meanwhile, Bruce announces that he is going to America with a new lady-friend! All their problems solved, it appears that Edith and Aylmer will find happiness at last!
It almost seemed at the end to resolve itself too neatly and quickly. Deux ex machina was a little too strongly evident (especially regarding the sudden solution to Dulcie's dilemma regarding her parents' financial collapse). And, I would have liked to have seen a return of the Ottley's friends, Hyacinth and Cecil, who played an important role in the first book, "Love's Shadow". I especially liked Hyacinth. The role played by their friend Vincy in the second book, "Tenterhooks", was apparently taken over by another friend, Sir Tito Landi in the third book, "Love at Second Sight".
This collection of stories in no way is a Christian or Judeo-Christian work. Religion is hardly ever mentioned at all, and then only in passing. However, I couldn't help but see parallels between it and the story of David and Abigail. A gracious and intelligent woman is married to a fool, but meets someone wiser and kinder. Her husband is taken out of the picture, and she is free to marry the one she loves. Maybe this is a stretch, but it's what came to my mind.
Click here for another Bookcrosser's review.