“The Romantic” by Barbara Gowdy

“Flat-out beautiful.” — The New York Times Book Review

“So beautiful it will make you weep.” — National Post

“Exceptional…. Barbara Gowdy’s books are like no others I’ve ever read. She’s easily as good as Alice Munro.” — The Daily Telegraph (London)

“A beautifully written, haunting story.” — The Boston Globe

These are just a few of the reviews found on the back cover of Gowdy’s The Romantic and once you read it, you’ll be sure to agree.

I’m a huge fan of Gowdy’s writing. She’s amazing, to say the least. Her writing is exactly what The Boston Globe says, beautiful and haunting. Her books and short stories deal with dark subjects that most of us would find either repulsive or unusual. Stories like, “We So Seldom Look On Love” that deal with necrophilia are made to sound like having sex with dead bodies is something that’s completely normal.

Gowdy’s talent at making the repulsive and unusual completely normal are put forward once again in The Romantic. This novel begins with a young girl, Louise, losing her mother. Not in the way you think, though. Her mother, a former beauty pageant winner, leaves Louise and her father with a note saying simply, “Louise knows how to work the washing machine,” a statement that isn’t even true. Gowdy’s known for writing about bad or non-existant parents, like in Falling Angels, where three young girls are left to fend for themselves after their mother commits suicide and their father looses interest in everything.

In The Romantic after her mother leaves, Louise becomes infatuated with the woman next door, Mrs. Richter, a German woman with an adopted son, Abel. Louise hopes that since Mrs. Richter adopted Abel, she’ll also adopt her. Eventually, her love turns toward Abel and this is where the story really begins. The novel goes between Abel and Louise growing up together to becoming teenagers and dating to becoming adults and dealing with alcohol abuse, drugs, and sickness. It’s a story about love like you’ve never read before. Give it a try and I promise you won’t regret it.

For more information about Barabara Gowdy, check out my post here. Happy reading!

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2 thoughts on ““The Romantic” by Barbara Gowdy

  1. Have you see the film adaptation of “We So Seldom Look On Love”, entitled “Kissed”?
    I just re-read the short story for class last week and we watched the movie for class. Wasn’t a fan of the film–but I loved the short story. Gowdy has a talent for crafting the humanity in her characters…you can almost forgive her character for having sex with the dead!

    I might check this book out this summer.
    Great post.

    • Thanks so much for your comment.

      I’ve heard of the movie, but haven’t had a chance to see it yet. The short story is definitely amazing. I agree about Gowdy making it easy to forgive the character for having sex with the dead. I find that to be a common element in all of her stories and novels that I’ve read. The lady’s got mad talent!

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