Loving by Henry Green NYRB Salon, February 5th at 8:00pm! Loving is set in the vast hereditary house of the Tennants, an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, but the story mainly involves their servants. The war has led to a scarcity of experienced staff, and when Eldon the butler dies, Raunce the head footman is assigned his job. The other servants are taken aback by this irregular promotion, but lovely young Edith, a recent hire, is quite attracted to the older Raunce and a flirtation begins. And it is Edith who discovers Mrs. Tennant’s daughter-in-law, whose husband is fighting at the front, in bed with a neighbor one morning, scandalizing the whole household. When the Tennants depart for England, Raunce is left in charge of the house and struggles to control its disputatious inhabitants as well as to secure the love of Edith, especially after a precious family jewel disappears. In Loving, Henry Green explores the deeply precarious nature of ordinary life against the background of the larger world at war.
Praise:No English novel of the 1940s has better stood the test of time. Indeed Loving has gathered power, the way photographs and very few novels do, simply by outlasting the people in it. The characters we meet seem so real, so attended to, so beautifully themselves, that it is a question whether we can forgive them for ever having to die. —Lorin Stein, Los Angeles Review of Books Loving is dominated by what it excludes—as much by the war as by the interior lives of its characters. For both the war and the interior life remain a void within the novel, which Green’s setting and style allow him to skirt while making us aware that he skirts them. In that, the novel stands as perhaps the purest example of the art of exclusion, suggesting the impossibility of seeing life steady and seeing it whole. —Michael Gorra
[Green] brings pleasure—a pleasure more intense, more original, more rewarding than that offered by any of his contemporaries...This writer is unique. No fiction has ever thrilled me in the same way as the great moments in Living and Loving; I have been moved by Tolstoy, Lawrence, Proust and others, perhaps more so, but not in the same way. —Sebastian Faulk, The Guardian In a masterpiece like Loving...Green was able so exquisitely to modulate his idiom to suit his glorious and trivial subject. —Brooke Allen, The New Criterion Loving is a classic upstairs-downstairs story, with the emphasis on downstairs...Green’s generosity towards even the most scheming and rascally of them offers a lesson you never forget. —Richard Lacayo, Time Green’s keen ear for dialogue and lightness of touch are absolutely masterful, and it is my sincere hope that we will not lose this hilarious, challenging, delightful little book again. Hal Hlavinka, The Brooklyn Daily
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