The Romantic by Barbara Gowdy
A Novel

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From the author of The White Bone, a piercing novel of passionate attachment and of the fear and freedom of letting go

Louise Kirk learns about love and loss at an early age. When she is nine years old, her former beauty queen mother disappears, leaving a note that reads only—and incorrectly—“Louise knows how to work the washing machine.” Soon after, the Richters and their adopted son, Abel, move in across the street. Louise’s immediate devotion to the exotic, motherly Mrs. Richter is quickly transferred to her nature-loving, precociously intelligent son.

From this childhood friendship evolves a love that will bind Louise and Abel forever. Though Abel moves away, Louise’s attachment becomes ever more fixed as she grows up. Separations are followed by reunions, but with every turn of their fractured relationship, Louise discovers that Abel cannot love her as fiercely and exclusively as she loves him. Only when she faces another great loss is Louise finally forced to confront the costs of abandoning herself to another.

Skillfully interweaving the stories of Louise and Abel at different ages, Barbara Gowdy produces a powerful exploration of love’s many incarnations: a motherless daughter who yearns to be adopted, a husband eternally linked to a wife who has left him, a girl bewitched by the boy next door, a woman who refuses to let go of a magnetic, elusive man. Haunting and profound, The Romantic is a story about love in all its exquisite variations.


About Barbara Gowdy

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Barbara Gowdy is the author of six previous books, including The White Bone (Picador 0-312-26412-7), Mister Sandman, and We So Seldom Look on Love. Recipient of the prestigious Marian Engel Award, she lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Published May 1, 2004 by Metropolitan Books. 321 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance, Westerns, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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His family moves to Vancouver not long after they realize they love each other, and Abel doesn’t answer any of her letters, but when he comes back for a visit Louise throws herself at him with such abandon that she immediately becomes pregnant.

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The Guardian

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It is exemplified here by a line in the letter Louise Kirk, the heroine of The Romantic , receives informing her of the death of her mother, who left the family home without explanation when Louise was 10 and never contacted Louise or her father again.

Jun 21 2003 | Read Full Review of The Romantic: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Louise's mother, a former beauty queen who said things like, "Nobody would believe you're my daughter," abandoned Louise and her passive father a year ago, and Louise prays that the Richters will adopt her, too.

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