Having never heard of Henry Green’s Loving, I had no notion of its plot and went into it blind. I was rewarded with a witty tale and a bird’s eye view of the life of London servants, living in Ireland during WWII.
One of the book’s central character, Charley Raunce, is elevated to the role of butler when the current one dies. An opportunist, he seems to have written his own code of ethics; padding the books by inflating purchase prices to his advantage while sending money orders to his mum in London. He easily adapts to his new role in the house and pursues a young housemaid. Charley is the type of man you can both love and hate and alternate those feelings on a regular basis.
The owner of the Irish country house, Mrs. Tennant, is in an almost constant state of befuddlement. Caught up in minor details, she never sees the whole picture and is nearly blind to events right before her, such as the presence of her daughter-in-law’ Violet’s lover. She is the type of person easily written off by others as being perpetually distracted.
Bert, Charley’s manservant, is loyal, but very perceptive and uncomfortable with the less than exemplary behaviors of his fellow employees. He is in love with young Edith, whose heart belongs to Charley, but still flirts and torments the young man. Realizing he will not likely fit in, he threatens to, and eventually leaves to enlist, an act worthy of respect, but instead is deemed disloyal.
I suppose it would be a tad difficult to chat up the enigmatic Mr. Green, but perhaps I’d attract him with a down to earth approach. I fancy he may be the type of wealthy individual who feels guilty over his status and so becomes fascinated with the lives of the “have nots”. An obviously observant man, I’d attempt to get him to share his writing abilities over a light lunch.
My rating for Loving is an 8 out of 10.
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